By BosNewsLife News Center
NEW DELHI, INDIA (BosNewsLife) -- Hindu militants burned down one of the oldest churches in India's central state of Madhya Pradesh on Friday, June 30, as part of a violent campaign against minority Christians, an official with close knowledge about the situation told BosNewsLife.
"The Disciples Church in [the city of] Harda was burnt down by fanatics. This church is one of the first churches established in Madhya Pradesh," said Sajan George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), an influential religious rights watchdog.
George said the Hindu militants stormed the church early Friday, June 30, at around 2.30 am local time. "The radicals dumped all 150 Holy Bibles and hymn books [on the ground]" sprinkled them with a chemical substance “and burned the books along with the church," he added No injuries were reported and the pastor of the church Jaidi Khan escaped from the fire unhurt, George said.
No more details were immediately available. The attack came shortly after a group of junior doctors of Gandhi Medical College in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh’s capital, reportedly attacked a Dalit Christian worker for several hours on June 21.
Dalits are considered the “lowest caste” in India’s ancient system of Hinduism and especially Dalit Christians, who converted from Hinduism, have become targets for attacks, investigators say.
They "cut his hair haphazardly and allegedly forced him to drink his own urine in Gandhi Medical College hostel on 21st June," George said. "The doctors accused him of stealing a wristwatch..."
The man managed to escape after he was beaten from the early afternoon till midnight, police officials were quoted as saying. “He was first beaten in a room and then taken to the roof where he was beaten up again,” George said, citing police sources.
Police investigators were apparently still searching for the attackers Friday, June 30. The man, whose name was not released apparently for security reasons, was briefly hospitalized, the GCIC said.
The attack was the latest in a series of incidents in recent weeks in the troubled state. "Madhya Pradesh witnessed gang rape [of Christian women] and [forced] naked parades of Christians," George recalled. He said that violence against minorities, “particularly Christians” is increasing "alarmingly," especially northern and southern Indian States.
For instance "dozens of activists of a Hindu group, Dharam Sena, disrupted a weekly prayer meeting of Christians and mercilessly" attacked Christians at Bothli village" about 48 kilometers (30 miles) west of Raipur, the capital of Chattisgarh state, he said. "As the prayer meeting was going on, more than a dozen Hindu fanatics surrounded the house, shouting slogans against Christians. Then they barged into the house and started to attack all those present inside."
They also "punched and kicked an eight- month pregnant woman who had to be rushed to hospital after she complained of terrible pain. Since the hospital did not have adequate facilities, the authorities expressed their inability to provide treatment to the injured woman, terming her injuries as 'internal'," George said. Police allegedly refused to intervene.
George said the incident happened after six Christian families in the village were pressured by the Dharam Sena group "to give up their Christian faith or face dire consequences."
However "police are hardly paying attention to reports and complaints lodged by Christians regarding these assaults," added George.
His organization on Friday, June 30 urged India's Minister for Minority Affairs to send a delegation "to investigate the brutal attacks, rapes and desecration of churches in the radical Hindu ruled state of Madhya Pradesh," and other areas in India, a predominantly Hindu nation of over 1 billion people. (With BosNewsLife Research and reports from India).
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