Members of the Hebron Assembly Pentecostal Church in Haleyangadi, Karnataka Komu Souharda Vedike (KKSV), the Karnataka Missions Network and other Christian groups took out a rally and staged a protest at Haleyangady on Sunday against the attack on the church on December 28.

Surathkal Sub-Inspector of Police Sunil B. Patil told The Hindu that around 200 people participated in the protest.

Holding black flags and shouting slogans against “communal” and “anti-social elements”, the protesters marched from the church off the National Highway 66 to the Haleyangady Gram Panchayat and returned.

A public meeting was organised during which protesters sat near the highway in front of the church.

Karnataka Komu Souharda Vedike Udupi district unit president G. Rajashekhar said that there was a historical context to the violence against Christians. In the 1990s, Christians were attacked in the Dangs district of Gujarat, followed by violence in Jabua, the burning of Australian Graham Staines and his two children in Odisha, and the Kandhamal violence and the church attacks in Karnataka.

Mr. Rajashekhar said the rule of the Bharatiya Janata Party and violence against Christians was “inter-linked”.

Not only Christians, but even Muslims were targeted.

Recently in Udupi, a group of Muslim clerics who were here to attend a programme in Kodavoor in Udupi district had been harassed by a group of around 250 right-wing people by calling them “terrorists” and asking them for identity proof. Karnataka Missions Network president Walter Maben said that Christians would respond to such violence within the framework of the Constitution.

Louis Lobo of the International Federation of Karnataka Christian Organisations said that although the members of the church should have been celebrating the New Year with their families, they were protesting on the street against targeted violence.

Pastor of the Hebron Assembly I.D. Prasanna said the accused should be caught.