Easter brought spate of violent attacks on Christians in India

April 11, 2018 by  
Filed under India, newsletter-india

India, April 10, 2018: Christians in India were subjected to a series of violent attacks by Hindu radicals during and after Holy Week, according to persecution watchdog International Christian Concern (ICC).

ICC documented 10 such attacks across India in the week leading up to Easter alone, resulting in the hospitalisation of several Christians with severe injuries.

The group has also learned that an annual prayer gathering in Vakel village, located in the Bastar District of Chhattisgarh, was attacked by Hindu radicals last Thursday. The April 5 attack left many injured, including six Christians who required hospitalisation.

According to Rev Ratha Netam, one of the speakers at the prayer gathering, the event was organised for Christians from the Vakel area as a day of prayer at the Village Evangelical India Mission (VEIM) Church. At 7:30pm, a mob of 70 people forced themselves into the church, shouting pro-Hindu slogans and carrying wooden clubs and proceeded to beat many of the 60 Christians in attendance. Six of the Christians were severely injured.

‘When I saw the Hindu fanatics shouting at believers asking for me to kill, I [was] afraid and went into my home,” Pastor Kasinath Baghel, one of the six injured Christians, told ICC. ‘Three of them entered in my home, held my hands, brought me out and beat me mercilessly. When they were beating me I was frightened greatly and thought that if I were killed what would [become] of my children and wife.’

Another victim, Shanti Baghel, told ICC: ‘They misbehaved with me. They did not even consider me as a woman. They continued to harass me and beat me with the wooden clubs. I was helpless. I was hoping that God will protect me from the hands of these attackers while others ran for their lives to nearby forests.’

A teenage girl who was abused by the attackers, Pansila Baghel, said: ‘When extremists pushed me, I fell to the ground. They beat me and hurled abusive language. One of the attackers told me to give up my ration card, even citizenship, because India is only for Hindus.’

One of the earlier Holy Week attacks took place at 10:40pm on March 29 – Maundy Thursday – as Pastor Koti Reddy was praying on the grounds of Prathyaksha Gudaram Church, adjacent to his family home in the Renichentala village in Andhra Pradesh.

‘I was terrified to see my father in [a] pool of blood with multiple injuries,’ Yohashua Reddy told ICC as he described the attack on his 55-year-old father, Pastor Koti Reddy.

According to Yohashua, his father was attacked by an assailant wielding an axe. ICC said that Pastor Reddy sustained five major injuries and remains in hospital. ‘I didn’t know if my father would survive,’ Yohashua told ICC.

Pastor Reddy had received several death threats, warning him to close down the church.

On Palm Sunday at a church service in Hyderabad, Telangana, a large mob descended and issued threats to worshipping Christians. ‘The entire church was terrified,’ Pastor David Raju, head pastor at the Shalom Prayer House in Peddambaerpet, told ICC. ‘We had around 60 in the church worshipping on Palm Sunday. At about 10:30am, a mob of 30 people came to the church shouting pro-Hindu slogans. They told us that we cannot continue the worship. The mob then forcibly took me to a Hindu house, where more people joined and further threatened me by saying that they would kill me if I didn’t stop the church in that locality.’

And in another incident, another mob of 40 Hindu radicals of the Hindu Munnani group attacked worshippers at a service on Easter Day at K Pungampalayam, located in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, with two pastors sustaining serious injuries. After witnessing the attack, the entire congregation fled the church.

Dr John Dayal, spokesman for United Christian Forum, told ICC: ‘After a difficult Christmas, which saw even [carol singers] arrested on charges of conversion, it has been a Holy Week of violence against Christians in many parts of the country. Colleagues have reported a spurt in persecution even in the National Capital Region of Delhi, especially in the immediate neighbouring states of Uttar Pradesh and Haryana.’

William Stark, ICC’s Regional Manager, said: ‘Attacks on Christians and their places of worship in India are becoming an almost daily occurrence. Hindu radicals across the country have been given a wide berth by local authorities to pursue their campaigns of hate against Christians and other minorities. This inability or unwillingness to protect and enforce the rights of Christians must come to an end or attacks on Christians will continue to rise in both number and intensity.’

– christian today

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