About 60 Christians praying and worshipping at a Pentecostal church in India's Chhattisgarh state were violently attacked by Hindu radicals on Sunday. According to reports, aside from destroying properties of the church, the female members of the congregation were also stripped naked.
The International Christian Concern first learned about the incident. According to the organization, the attack was carried out by around 25 individuals. They arrived on motorcycles and began beating the Christians as soon as they entered the church.
The mob also destroyed the church's chairs, instruments and Bibles. Many of the members of the church were beaten while the women were stripped.
According to Arun Pannalal, the head of the Chhattisgarh Christian Forum, the attackers justified their actions by blaming the church for carrying out forced conversions on Hindus.
"They began alleging that people were being converted," Pannalal told the press according to CBN. "They fled before police could reach the spot. This is the sixth attack on churchgoers in Chhattisgarah in the past six weeks."
As detailed by witnesses, after the local law enforcers arrived, the assailants dispersed. However, they managed to apprehend about seven of the radicals. Despite the arrests, members of the Church criticized the Indian government for the ongoing religious persecution on the country. They noted that officials are slow to respond to such cases.
For instance, a week before the attack, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom has been coordinating with the Indian government regarding a planned visit to the country. As noted by the Christian Post, the point of the meeting is to discuss the conditions regarding religious freedom in India.
However, the government was not able to issue visas for members of the commission, which then further delayed talks to achieving religious equality in India.
"We are deeply disappointed by the Indian government's denial, in effect of these visas," Robert P. George, the chairman of the agency said. "As a pluralistic, non-sectarian, and democratic state, and a close partner of the United States, India should have the confidence to allow out visit."
The incident on Sunday is the latest case of Christian persecution in the country this month. On March 5, a group of Christians in the Dantewada District were reportedly attacked by radicals. A day before that, a pastor was beaten by radicals Kondagoon district. According to Charisma News, the attackers told the victim the Christians are no longer allowed in that area.