Washington, D.C. (BWA) — Baptist leaders in the southern state of Karnataka in India have informed the Baptist World Alliance that persecution is on the rise in that state.

A Baptist leader informed the BWA by telephone on Nov. 21 of the attacks, and requested prayer for those facing persecution. In an e-mail dated Oct. 31, another Baptist leader stated, “We are busy visiting churches that were attacked in recent times in our state,” and “we strongly feel that God’s people are uniting in prayers for peace and protection.”

Anti-Christian violence has increased significantly in India. The latest wave of violence began after the murder of a charismatic Hindu leader on Aug. 23 in Orissa state in eastern India. Radical Hindus blame Christians for the killing, even though a militant Maoist group claimed responsibility. The violence, which sparked several persecutory actions in Orissa, has since spread to other Indian states, including Karnataka.

More than 60 Christians in India have been killed and another 50,000 left homeless by the violence, mostly in Orissa.

An Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI) story on Nov. 18 reported that a Baptist ministerial student was arrested after being beaten by Hindu extremists in Karnataka. The minister in training was conducting a worship service in a house church when the worship was disrupted by the Hindu extremists. The principal of the Baptist Bible College that the student attends had also been arrested. Both were charged with “malicious acts to outrage religious feelings and punishment for criminal intimidation” while the student also faced a charge of “forceful conversion.”

EFI reported on Nov. 17 about the arrest of another pastor in Karnataka. “Hindu extremists (of the) Vishwa Hindu Parishad accused a pastor of ‘forced’ conversion, beat him up, and also verbally abused Christian women on November 9.” The same report stated that another Christian in Karnataka was arrested on Nov. 4 on charges of forced conversion.

Anti-Christian violence has also been experienced in Maharashtra, a state on the western coast of India, where, on Nov. 15, a mob of 20 Hindu radicals vandalized a church, stripped and beat the pastor, and left him unconscious. Christians at the church were accused of distributing gospel tracts, but EFI reported that they were handing out flyers for a peace conference instead.

Other Indian states where anti-Christian violence has been reported include Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi, Tamil Nadu and Uttarakhand.

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