According to local sources contacted by ICC, 30 Christians in Sarangi village, located in India’s Madhya Pradesh State, were attacked by suspected Hindu radicals at 3:00 p.m. yesterday, December 15. The Christians were gathered in a private home, singing Christmas carols, when a mob of 25 suspected Hindu radicals broke into the house, dragged the Christians into the street, and started beating them.
The suspected radicals also accused the Christians of engaging in forcible conversion activities and handed four pastors over to local police after the assault. At the time of writing, the four pastors were still at the police station waiting to be released on bail.
“We have carol rounds during the day,” a local pastor from Sarangi village told ICC. “Because of fear of attacks from the radical Hindu groups, the Christians of this area are scared and cannot celebrate Christianity freely.”
In a similar incident, 20 Christians from Tikiriya village, located in India’s Rajasthan State, were brutally beaten with wooden clubs by a mob of 30 suspected Hindu radicals on December 11. According to Asia News
, Fr. Stephen Rawat, a parish priest who was badly injured, said, “I have no enemies. I was beaten because of my Christian faith.”
went on to report that five injured Christians are being treated at Mahatma Gandhi Hospital in Bansawara, a nearby city.
“The season of Advent [and] the month of December have become very difficult for the Christian community for several years,” Dr. John Dayal, a human rights and religious freedom activist told ICC. “Community prayers, carolers, prayer groups, and decorations at small churches have become special targets because of their visibility and the number of people collected for worship.”
“Militant and aggressive elements of various Hindutva groups seem to be waiting just for the Christmas season,” Dr. Dayal continued. “Even during the Congress Party’s rule, this was the ground situation. The last three Christmas seasons have been particularly tough.”
“In the nation’s capital, there are police patrols,” Dr. Dayal concluded. “But elsewhere, it is just the luck of the draw. Services may be attacked or will pass off peacefully, but in palpable tension.”
William Stark, ICC’s Regional Manager, said, “These vicious attacks on Christians celebrating the Christmas holiday are totally unacceptable. Christians should not fear attacks while celebrating Christmas. It is their right to freely celebrate the religious holidays they hold dear according to India’s constitutional protections. More must be done in India’s rural areas to ensure that the religious freedom rights of all citizens are respected and to show that the activities of religious extremists will not be tolerated.”