India Evangelicals Worship As Militants Attack Churches, Youth Center, Pastors
By Santosh Digal, BosNewsLife Asia Correspondent
NEW DELHI, INDIA (BosNewsLife)– Evangelical Christians in central and southern India were worshiping Sunday, March 28, amid threats from suspected Hindu militants who reportedly attacked a Christian youth center, churches and pastors.
In one of the incidents alleged activists from the Hindu group Vishwa Hindu Parishad, or’World Hindu Council’, attacked the Christian Personality Development Center for Youth inthe Nandini area of Durg, a city in India’s central Chhattisgarh state. last Sunday, March 21, said the Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI).
“Extremists carrying the national flag entered” the Center, “attacked the students and teachers, burned Biblesand Gospel literature.
“The extremists wrote some derogatory remarks and drew a picture ofa cross on the national flag they brought,” EFI said.
Police later detained three Christians at the Center after “Hindu extremists” accused them of “insulting the national flag” before releasing them on bail, added EFI, which represents evangelical Christians across India.
The same day two evangelical churches were attacked in Chhattisgarh, including in the Kasdol area ofthe state’s capital Raipur where about 40 Hindu militants stopped a prayer meeting of the Ebenezer Church,EFI said.
The militants, who EFI described as suspected “extremists” of the Hindu youth group Bajrang Dal, allegedly “tore Bibles and Christian literature and closed the church.
The “extremists” further “threatened the church members of dire consequences if they continue future worshipmeetings,” EFI said.
Police arrived but took pastor Ravi Bagha and other church members to the police station and “detained them forabout 7 hours”, before releasing them, without making arrests in the case, the group added.
In the same area of the Raipur another mob of about 25 suspected Hindu militants from the Bajrang Dal reportedly raided the Sunday worship service of Believers Church in India on March 21, threatening and verballyabusing of Christians.
They confiscated Bibles and other literature and threatened to beat Christian “if they did not leave the area,” evangelical Christians said.
“The extremists also threatened one church member to dismiss her from her government job if she continues to embrace the Christianfaith,” EFI said, adding that police “took the Christians to the police station and detained them for about three hours.”
None of the Hindu groups were known to have commented on the violence Sunday, March 27.
However several Hindu groups have expressed outrage about what they view as “forced conversions” of Hindus by Christians, charges churches deny.
There was also a tense calm in India’s southern state where police briefly detained five church leaders who EFI saidwere accused by “Hindu extremists” of carrying Gospel tracts “to glorify Christianity”.
The March 23 incident in the textile city of Tirupur happened after the pastors visited Christians in a slum area ofTamil Nadu.
While the pastors were released, EFI expressed concerns about the future of the Christian communities in the state,saying they need better protection.
Anti-Cristian violence is rising in India, a predominantly Hindu nation of over one billion people, according toseveral churches and rights groups. (With editing by BosNewsLife’s Stefan J. Bos).