India: About 500 extremists raid a church pelting stones at the congregants

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A church in India’s Madhya Pradesh state came under attack by a mob of about 500 Hindu extremists who pelted stones at the congregants. The entrance of the church building was damaged as a result of this mob attack. The mob was furious over alleged accusations of the desecration of the nationalist flag.

Extremism in India

A Protestant church in Jobat, a city of Madhya Pradesh state of India, sustained an attack. The attackers were enraged over the fact that a flag of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party which was placed outside the church had been torn. The nationalist activists started pelting stones at congregants in the church. In this regard, a local police official, Superintendent of Alirajpur District Police- Meena Chauhan Stated that a police contingent was dispatched for the area as soon a complaint of the incident was registered.

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In a paradoxical statement, Pastor Emmanuel Ariel narrated a contrasted story, and asserted that the nationalist flags were possibly torn by the wind, and the church had no part in the alleged desecration of the BJP flag. He went on to explain that the police was only standing as a bystanders when the extremists attacked the church.

“RSS activists [Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the Hindu ultra-nationalist paramilitary group ed], the BJP and Bajrang Dal [youth wing of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, VHP] led by former district chief, threw stones at members of the community, attacked our women and broke the church lamps,” he said. He also claimed that “all this happened before the eyes of the police officers, who stood by as silent spectators.”

Followed by the incident the International Christian Concern which is a persecution watch dog group stated that this was “only the latest attack on Christians” in India. The group reported that there has been an increase in the reported incidents of Hindu violence against the growing Christian population over the past few years.

Jagadish G Chandra- an Indian Human rights activist while reflecting on the anniversary of the 2008 massacre of almost 100 Christians in Orissa said: “The celebration is an opportunity to reflect on the theme of growing intolerance orchestrated by Hindu extremist groups across the country, and how these ideas have infiltrated the government, police and courts, eroding the values of justice, equality, secularism and citizenship enshrined by the Constitution of India.” The Orissa massacre left 300 churches vandalized along with about 6,000 homes of Christians damaged.

While remarking about the incident in Jobat, the President of the Global Council of Indian Christians- Sajan K George said that this incident is a clear indicator that the intolerance and violence against the Christians in the country is on the rise. “Religious tolerance and freedom of worship in India are deteriorating and violence is increasing,” he said.