08/12/2016 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) – In India, an orchestrated hate campaign has ravaged the Christian community of the South Asian nation for more than two years now. It was 2014 when village resolutions banning non-Hindu religions came to life across 50+ villages in the Bastar region, directly coinciding with Modi and the Bharatiya Janta Party’s (BJP) rise to power in the federal government. Ever since, there has been a steady trend in sectarian attacks targeting Christians in India.
Recent weeks have seen a sharp escalation in violent attacks by the radical Hindutva forces. Perpetrators have enjoyed total impunity while Christians live in a constant state of fear. Attacks have intensified in form as Hindu groups are brutally assaulting men and women alike for their faith in Jesus.
14-Year-Old Christian Girl Murdered in Kondagaon
One Christian child lost her life in the Jattarbedu village on July 22, 2016. The 14-year-old school girl and daughter of Mr. Maner Sori was brutally raped and murdered on her way to school.
Mr. Maner and his family have suffered a social boycott for their refusal to renounce their Christian faith, constantly facing death threats from Hindu radicals in the area. The family has now paid a heavy price in the form of their daughter who was found in the forest, reportedly gang raped and murdered. Her attackers sealed her mouth and eyes with glue to stifle her screams during their barbaric onslaught.
Pastor A. K. Netam, a local pastor and friend to the family, told International Christian Concern (ICC), “It was a revenge attack for her not abandoning her faith. The family of the girl became Christians 18 years ago but was under pressure from local Hindu leaders to give up their faith.”
Three Christians Beaten in Damtheri
In another case, taking place in Mandroud village, three Christians were brutally beaten to the point of unconsciousness on July 17, 2016. According to local sources, around 7:00 p.m., more than 150 Bajrangdal people stormed the house of Mr. Sudhama, assaulting family members and manhandling the women. They later took Sudhama, his son Umesh and Pastor Karan outside of the village and ruthlessly beat them. Their limp bodies were thrown by the canal.
Umesh sustained a traumatic head injury while the other two are recovering from severe eye injuries. As is usually the case, police filed a First Information Report (FIR) that left perpetrators with minimal consequences, allowing the attackers to pay an easy bail at the police station and leave without jail time.
Pastor Murdered by Maoists
Another recent incident saw Pastor Yohan Maria killed on the border of Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh. He was reportedly killed by Maoists who believed him to be a police informer. These rumors began because Pastor Yohan had prayed for a police officer looking for comfort in the church he pastored.
Fearful Times for Christians in Chhattisgarh
“Due to the current situation, many pastors are leaving the Christian work,” A Christian leader from Raipur told ICC, “Some of them are [returning] themselves to work silently for the security concerns of them and their families.”
Another Christian from Bastar told ICC, “Every other day we hear of an attack on Christians in Bastar region, and there is no peace in the areas, but fear among the Christians is far beyond what we can imagine.” He concluded, “These attacks have taken momentum after BJP came to power in the center of 2014.”
Of the aforementioned three attacks, no perpetrators were prosecuted in any case. This lack of legal justice shows just one level of the degree of impunity in India.
In Article 25 of the Indian Constitution, every citizen in India, regardless of religion, is promised fundamental rights. The Supreme Court recently commented on the condition of minorities in the country, saying, “Minorities are as much children of the soil as the majority…members of the minority community should not be deprived of their rights to conserve their religion and culture.”
If this is to be understood as stated, it is imperative that local authorities take note and change their policies to safeguard the interest of these “children of the soil.” Especially when it concerns the Christian minorities in India.