India: Hindu nationalists attack separate church gatherings on same day; pastor arrested

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent

(Worthy News) - Two Christian congregations in central India were attacked on the same day by around 100 radical Hindu nationalists who stormed each of their worship gatherings on February 7, International Christian Concern (ICC) reports. While there are no reports of the attackers being arrested, the pastor of one of the churches attacked was arrested and detained before being released on bail.

The attacks took place in India’s Madhya Pradesh state, which recently enacted a new anti-conversion law forbidding Christians, Muslims, and others from converting Hindus to their respective faiths. During the attacks, which took place during Sunday services, congregants were beaten and church leaders were accused of violating the state’s anti-conversion law, ICC said.

The first attack was carried out on around 50 Christians gathered for worship in the village of Bhandakapar, ICC said. “I saw a man with a wooden stick beating one of my congregants as he forced himself into the hall,” Pastor Malsingh told ICC. “More people came inside and started beating everyone with sticks. They also slapped several Christians.”

The second similar attack took place on a congregation gathered in Jambukheda, around three miles away from Bhandakapar. Local police actually arrested and detained Pastor Vasuniya, who had been leading the worship service there, ICC said. A number of the congregants were also questioned about whether they had been forced to attend the worship service. Pastor Vasuniya was released but remains on bail.

According to ICC, there has been an increase in attacks on Christian church gatherings in Madhya Pradesh in recent weeks. “Radical Hindu nationalists have used the enactment of a new anti-conversion law in Madhya Pradesh to unleash a new wave of anti-Christian violence,” ICC said in its report. “Local police have allowed false accusations of forced conversion to justify the violence, giving radical nationalists near-complete immunity.”