A number of Christian individuals and churches in India were attacked by members of a national militant Hindu group around Christmas time in separate occasions, proving that Christian persecution in the country is becoming worse despite laws protecting religious freedom.
Earlier this month, some Christians, including women and children, just finished caroling and were about to go home when they were attacked by 20 to 30 Hindu extremists, who beat them with batons and sticks.
The attack was unprovoked, according to Saints Peter and Paul Church parish priest Stephen Rawat. The priest organizes caroling activities each year.
He said on the night of Dec. 14, as the group walked toward their car on their way home, the mob of Hindu extremists rushed toward them, shouting, “Bharat Mata ki Jai!” which means “victory to Mother India!”
The children were able to run for cover, but the men and women, including Rawat, suffered injuries on their backs, hands and legs. The mob reportedly accused the Christians of converting people to their religion.
Although the incident was reported to the police, no arrest has been made so far.
“Whenever we make enquiries, police merely say that they are still searching,” Rawat said, according to Crux.
He believed the attackers could be part of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, a Hindu nationalist group, because the assault happened on a street where an RSS hostel was found. The RSS is the “parent organization” of the Bharatiya Janata Party, India’s ruling party to which Prime Minister Narendra Modi belongs.
Another group of Hindu extremists attacked a Christian church last week. The angry mob, consisting of about 60 people, rushed into the Full Gospel Church carrying sticks and waving saffron flags. According to the Times of India, they vandalized the church for an hour.
AB Lal, the church’s pastor, said the attackers identified themselves with the Hindu Yuva Vahini group. However, HYV denied its involvement in the crime. And while the police confirmed that a report has been filed regarding the attack, they said the church members filed the complaint against “unknown persons.”
The attack left six people injured.
In Banswara in Western India, eight Pentecostals were beaten by several men who barged into their Christmas worship service. Police superintendent Anand Sharma said the violence broke out when the Hindu extremists near the church were angered by the playing of Christmas songs and hymns over a loudspeaker.
Sajan K. George, President of the Global Council of Indian Christians, said that in most of these attacks, the Christians did not do anything to provoke the Hindu militants. On the other hand, the Hindu militants have accused them of forcibly converting people to the Christian faith, which they have denied.
India’s population is predominantly Hindu. With only about 30 million people in India who believe in Christ, Christians are a minority in the country. Although religious freedom should be guaranteed by the Constitution, this does not appear to be strictly implemented.