Madhya Pradesh, where several other Christian gatherings were attacked earlier in the week, a Christian official said.
"At noon around noon [local time] between 30 and 40 radical Hindus rushed into the house church of Pastor Kapsingh in the town of Machlaya in Jhabua, District in Madhya Pradesh,” where they attacked the 20 members congregation with sticks and clubs," said George Sajan of the Global Council of Indian Christians, which represents several dominations.
The attack happened as the Christians were listening to a Gospel sermon given by Evangelist Ray Singh, he said. “The attackers physically attacked both [pastor] Kapsingh and Raj Singh [while] the members of the congregation were chased out of the church.” He said the militants were beating the two men “all the way” to Kalibeli police station where the angry Hindu group allegedly shouted anti-Christian slogans.
Police briefly detained the churchmen apparently on charges related to “forced conversions” of Hindus. It was not immediately clear whether the men were released on bail or who was responsible for the attack. However Saturday’s violence came militants backed by local police broke up at least three other Christian gatherings, Indian Christians said.
A total of eight Christians were reportedly accused of attempted forced conversion or hurting Hindu religious sentiments. One was released without charges and four were released on bail, while another three remain in police custody, news reports said.
Among those detained Tuesday, September 12, in Jabalpur district, Madhya Pradesh, was apparently Assemblies of God pastor Venkatesh Kumar Sadhu, after extremists accused him of attempted forced conversion.
The incident reportedly happened when a family in Ghama Thana village asked Sadhu to visit their home and pray for a sick family member. While he was praying, members of the Hindu extremist group Bajrang Dal attacked the pastor and damaged his scooter, said Christian news reports.
The police have reportedly admitted that Hindu extremists are pressuring them to prosecute Christians such as Sadhu. Elsewhere in India a Pastor’s house was razed to the ground in Phulbani district of the state of eastern coastal state of Orissa. “Fearing police action, the culprits have leveled the allegation of rape against the Pastor and got him arrested,” said the All India Christian Council (AICC), a major advocacy group.
Pastor Karnel Nayak of Good Shepherd Community Church (GSCC) has been serving the village for many years. One of his own church members, allegedly wanted to chase away the pastor to take control of the church, sought the help of activists belonging to Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a Hindu group. Although the rape charges were dropped, the pastor remains in prison.
Since his neighbors and other community members are upset with him, his life will be in danger if he comes out of jail,” local police reportedly said. The police have so far rounded up 19 people in connection with the church demolition, but most of them are Christians, the AICC said.
Attacks against minority Christians are in the rise across India, a predominantly Hindu nation of nearly 1.1 billion people. (With BosNewsLife research and reports from India).