Christians in India, investigators said. The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), a major Indian advocacy group, told BosNewsLife there are indications that "six persons belonging to a Dalit Christian family" were killed late Monday, August 28, on a riverbank near Shivbigha village, located in the Palamau district of the Indian state of Jharkand.
It said militant Lalan Paswan of a nearby village, "along with his accomplices stormed the house of Ram Dinesh and [captured] all the seven family members, including four children."
GCIC, which has close contacts with local Christians in the region, said militants accused the family of "practicing voodoo" and dragged them "to the bank of the Sone river" where they disappeared.
Palamau Police Superindent Udayen Kumar Singh reportedly said that the search for the bodies was ongoing. "Though the body was not found, the profuse blood stains at six different places on the river bank lead to the conclusion that the criminals might have killed these people and threw their bodies in the river" he was quoted as saying.
The apparent survivor, Ram Dinesh, is "undergoing treatment" in a local state hospital, GCIC said. Names and more details about the victims were not immediately released. The reported family massacre came shortly after five other Dalits were "lynched to death" in the northern Indian state of Haryana for skinning a cow, sacred to Hindus, GCIC added.
"Police and local authorities looked on while extremists massacred and burned the victims. They were lynched to death by a furious mob for skinning a cow..." in the Dulena area of Jhajjar district in Haryana state, well-informed GCIC President Sajan George told BosNewsLife.
He stressed that his organization "expresses its shock and anguish at the brutal murder of five Dalits in the northern Indian state Haryana and six Dalits in Jharkhand" and that it has urged the Indian President to intervene.
"This is one of the most inhuman acts that have been carried out by the murderers in the name of religion and a mighty majority. We deplore such acts, which make the lives of innocent and poor people miserable by taking away the members of the family who earn their daily livelihood for the family."
Church groups and rights investigators have linked the attacks to growing frustration among Hindu groups about the spread of Christianity among Dalits, the lowest caste in India's ancient system of Hinduism and often described by militants as the "untouchables."
However GCIC and other groups say Jesus Christ especially loves those viewed as outcastes by society. Besides Dalit Christians, other believers are reportedly persecuted. Among other reported latest incidents was news that on August 20, extremists burst into a church service of the Good Shepherd Community Church in Kolar district of Karnataka, beating the pastor and his assistant.
In Andhra Pradesh state, police on August 21, reportedly arrested a Catholic priest, Mathew Kunnel, for allegedly burning portraits of Hindu deities. Earlier on August 20 in the Mangaon area of Rewa district in another state, Madhya Pradesh, militants attacked a church service run bt Pastor Vijay Kumar of the Gospel Echoing Missionary Services congregation, Indian Christians said.
The troubles apparently began after the pastor started when one couple brought a sick five-year-old boy to the front of the church for prayer. Enraged by the continuation of the service, some of the extremists entered the hall, grabbed the young boy and twisted his arm while they shouted at the pastor, Christian news agency Compass Direct News reported.
"Stop this now! Leave this place, or the next time there will be bloodshed," the Hindu militants were quoted as saying. The police reportedly later detained and interrogated Mourya to explain the activities of his congregation of roughly 50 members, news reports said.
There are concerns among mission groups that the violence will further increase following the adoption in several Indian states to prevent "forced conversions." Critics claim the legislation is used to make it more difficult for missionaries, church leaders and others to preach the Gospel. Evangelicals see preaching the Gospel to anyone interested, including those from other religions, as an integral part of their faith in Christ.
Christians comprise roughly 2.3 percent of India's mainly Hindu population of nearly 1.1 billion people, according to estimates. (With BosNewsLife Research, BosNewsLife News Center and reports from India).