India: 200 Hindu nationalists attack church

Monday, October 11, 2021

by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent

(Worthy News) - A mob of 200 Hindu nationalists attacked a church in India's Uttarakhand state last week, damaging the church and seriously injuring three Christian women, International Christian Concern (ICC) reports. Since the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata came to power in 2014, India has progressed from ranking 31 on the US Open Doors annual Watch List of countries that persecute Christians to ranking 10 in 2021.

A Sunday morning worship was underway at a church in Roorkee Town, Uttarakhand state, when the 200-strong mob Hindu nationalists stormed into the building, ICC said. The rioters lashed out at congregants and vandalized church property. Three Christian women were seriously wounded and were taken to hospital in Dehradun. The rioters justified their actions by saying the church was conducting illegal activities by holding a service.

Numerous Indian states have now enacted anti-conversion laws which rights groups report are frequently abused by Hindu nationalists to harass and persecute Christians, ICC says. “Radical nationalists falsely accuse Christians of forcefully converting individuals to Christianity to justify harassment and assault. Local police often overlook violence perpetrated against Christians due to false accusations of forced conversion,” ICC said in its report.

According to church leader Prio Sadhana Lanse, the mob included many members of the Bharatiya Janata Party. “We demand strict action against them and police protection for us,” Prio Sadhana Lanse, a leader in the church, told the Union of Catholic Asian News (UCAN). While an official complaint was made to police, no arrests have been made so far, Lanse added.

“The church that was attacked has been active for the past 30-40 years,” Reverend Titoo Peter of the Methodist Church told UCAN. “Christians in Roorkee enjoy good relations with people of other faiths and this is the first incident of a church being attacked. It is the handiwork of some bad elements who do not want peace and harmony in the area.”