Hundreds of radical Hindu nationalists attacked a house church in India’s Haryana state and kidnapped the pastor, forcing him to sit before idols before leaving him badly injured.
Morning Star News reports that earlier this month, a mob of some 250 to 300 radicals surrounded a small house church led by Pastor Jai Singh in Bichpari village, located about an hour north of Delhi, in India’s Haryana state. About 30 assailants broke into the church and attacked Pastor Singh and the other Christians gathered for worship.
“They pushed me to the floor and I could not understand who was kicking me, who was slapping or beating on my back,” Singh told the outlet. “As a huge crowd surrounded me, I could only see their hands and shoes kicking me. They picked me up from the floor and took me inside the home and told me that I should go with them, if not they would kill me there on the spot.”
The assailants took Singh to a school where he was forced to sit before idols and was further beaten with wooden sticks. Later that day, he was taken to the Gohana police station where he was “severely bruised and howling in pain.
Police took him to the hospital, but when he returned to the station he had been falsely accused of forcefully converting Hindus to Christianity. The next day, Singh was presented before a judge and sent to judicial custody.
“Unknown persons in plainclothes were driving me to the court and then to the jail,” he recalled. “At first I suspected that they must not be police officers as the persons were not in uniform. The journey from court to jail was torturous, as one of them abused me in vulgar Haryanvi language. He abused my family members, including my wife and children. I kept quiet and said in my heart, ‘Oh Lord, if it is in Your will, then let it be, but give me strength to endure this. I am weak. I need you.’”
Thanks to the intervention of the Alliance Defending Freedom-India, Singh was released on bail.
According to ADF-India, more than 300 cases of mob violence against India’s Christian community were documented in 2019, yet police prosecuted the perpetrators in only 40 cases. The group claims police often work in tandem with Hindu extremists to harass and persecute religious minorities.
“It has become a trend that a batch of Hindu extremists barge inside Christian homes and accuse them of proselytising Hindus to Christianity,” Dinanath Jaiswar, a volunteer with ADF-India, explained to Morning Star News. “When Christians deny the accusations and restrain them from disrupting the prayers, they (the extremists) use the police to take the Christians into custody.”
India is ranked 10th on Open Doors’ 2020 World Watch List of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.
“Since the current ruling party took power in 2014, incidents against Christians have increased, and Hindu radicals often attack Christians with little to no consequences,” notes Open Doors. “The view of the Hindu nationalists is that to be Indian is to be Hindu, so any other faith—including Christianity—is viewed as non-Indian. Also, converts to Christianity from Hindu backgrounds or tribal religions are often extremely persecuted by their family members and communities.”
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom’s 2019 report warned that religious freedom conditions in India “continued a downward trend.”
The commission warned against “the growth of exclusionary extremist narratives” that facilitate campaigns of violence, intimidation and harassment against non-Hindu minorities and lower-caste minorities from both public and private actors.