Four separate incidents of violence and intimidation around Christmas time illustrates that India’s powerful militant Hindu national movements continue to make life increasingly difficult for the country’s Christian minority.
Six people were injured on Thursday when a youthful mob belonging to an extremist Hindu nationalist group attacked a Christian church, claiming that the church was forcibly converting Hindus to Christianity.
According to a report in the Times of India, roughly 60 people were in the mob that set upon the Full Gospel Church, located in Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh state.
“The attackers were waving saffron flags and were armed with sticks,” said AB Lal, the church’s pastor. “They barged into the church and kept chanting ‘Jai Shri Ram’,” adding that the church was vandalized in the incident, which he said went on for roughly an hour.
Saffron is the color associated with India’s Hindu nationalist movements, and “Jai Shri Ram”, meaning “Hail Lord Ram!”, is a common battle cry.
According to witnesses, the attackers shattered the church’s window panes and even uprooted Christmas trees, roughing up several congregants in the process.
“We are so scared that we have to now cancel all the programs in church,” Lal said, saying that local police have put the attack down to “unknown persons.”
In another anti-Christian incident earlier this month in western India on December 14, Christians were beaten while caroling.
Father Stephen Rawat, parish priest of Saints Peter and Paul Church in Banswara Rajasthan in Udaipur diocese, told Crux that to date no arrests have been made in that incident either.
“Whenever we make enquiries, police merely say that they are still searching,” he said.
SOURCE: Nirmala Carvalho