By BosNewsLife Asia Service
NEW DELHI, INDIA (BosNewsLife)-- Christians in southern India were recovering from injuries after a church was attacked by dozens of Hindu fighters, church members said Wednesday, November 26.
Some 25 Hindu fighters broke into the Calvary Apostolic Church congregation in the town of Bangarapet in Karnataka during a church service Sunday, November 23, according to witnesses.
The church was vandalized, and eight of the worshippers were reportedly injured in the attack; at least two remained in hospital for what Christians called serious injuries.
"The whole scene of a mob assaulting my believers was shocking and very frightening," said Pastor Robert Solomon D'Souza in published remarks.
"First they destroyed the furniture in the church and then started beating up believers who were gathered in the church for worship," he explained in a statement distributed by advocacy group International Christian Concern (ICC).
CHILDREN, WOMEN CRYING
"The children and women were crying aloud as they were beaten up by the mob," he recalled. The pastor, who said he had been leading the congregation for 12 years, claimed leaders of the local branch of the influential Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), a radical Hindu party, and women activists were among the attackers.
BJP could not immediately be reached for comment, but the party has in the past condemned the spread
of Christianity and what it views as "forced conversions" by devoted Christians and missionaries in heavily Hindu India.
Pastor Robert said he was threatened by BJP-leader Rajendran and told to vacate the church. He told me, "We do not want a church in this place. You better leave this place or face the consequences."
The attackers also used wooden sticks and iron rods, severely injuring several of the worshipers, the church said. Kribakaran, a 35-year-old man, said he was among those injured in the attack after being hit in the head with an iron rod.
DEEP HEAD WOUND
Kribakaran was seen having a deep cut on his head and collapsed from the wounds.
He was taken to the hospital for treatment and spent two days in the hospital, as the injury was very severe, Christians said.
Two others were reported to have been admitted to the hospital with broken limbs.
There is a local police station nearby but, Christians said they failed to intervene and stop the attack. The pastor was taken to the station for questioning following the incident, but police allegedly failed to file a required 'First Information Report' documenting the incident, which would then lead to further investigation.
ICC said it has been closely following a "spike in attacks by Hindu radicals" since the election victory of BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in May 2014.
MANY ATTACKS REPORTED
In Uttar Pradesh state, for instance, 600 incidents of communal violence were reported in just the first 100 days of BJP rule, according to rights investigators.
Last Sunday's incident "represents another instance of a growing hostility along religious lines across India," noted ICC Regional Manager Todd Daniels. "It is extremely troubling to see a vicious attack on a place of worship and worshipers," he told BosNewsLife in a statement.
"Equally as troubling is the lack of response both by local and national officials to these kinds of attacks. Rather than taking steps to prevent these attacks, their inactivity perpetuates a culture of impunity that will lead to even more violence."
ICC, he said, had appealed to India's government and other political and religious leaders to address religious based violence "so that all Indians - regardless of their faith - are free to worship without out fear of violence."
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