02/22/2021 India (International Christian Concern) – Earlier this month, a mob of radical Hindu nationalists in central India attacked two Christian worship rallies on the same Sunday. In both cases, nationalists stormed church services, beat Christians and falsely accused leaders of violating the state’s new anti-conversion law.
On February 7, two religious services in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh were attacked by a mob of nearly 100 radical nationalists. Local Christians suspect that members of the mob were associated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a Hindu nationalist organization, because of the saffron scarves worn by members of the crowd.
The incident began in the village of Bhandakapar where a worship gathering of 50 Christians was attacked.
“I saw a man with a wooden stick beat up one of my devotees as he forced himself into the hall,“Pastor Malsingh told International Christian Concern (ICC). “More people entered and started beating everyone with sticks. They also slapped several Christians.“
The crowd then desecrated the prayer hall by smashing the front door and tearing the cross from the top of the prayer hall. The crowd also damaged five motorcycles belonging to members of the congregation.
According to Pastor Malsingh, a member of the congregation called local police as the attack continued. When a group of 10 policemen arrived, they arrested 30 Christians and took them to the local police station. At the station, Christians were asked about religious conversions taking place in the prayer room.
The mob of radical nationalists then attacked a second Christian worship service in the village of Jambukheda, about five kilometers from Bhandakapar. Local police also arrested several Christians in Jambukheda and asked if they had been forced to attend the religious service.
Police filed a first information report (FIR) against Pastor Dileep Vasuniya, the pastor who heads the worship service in Jambukheda. Pastor Vasuniya was arrested and taken to prison, but was later released on bail.
Attacks on Christians and their places of worship in Madhya Pradesh have intensified over the past two months. Radical Hindu nationalists have used the enactment of a new anti-conversion law in Madhya Pradesh to spark a new wave of anti-Christian violence. Local police authorized false charges of forced conversion to justify the violence, granting radical nationalists almost total immunity.
For interviews, contact Alison Garcia: [email protected]