International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned of a violent attack on a church service in Bangarapet, Karnataka in Southern India. The attack came during the worship service on Sunday morning, November 23. The church was vandalized, and eight of the worshippers were injured in the attack; at least two were held in the hospital for serious injuries.
The incident occurred when a mob of 25 Hindu radicals broke into the Calvary Apostolic Church while the church service was going on. The mob was led by Mr. Rajendran, a local Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and Mr. Karuanakaran, along with some women activists. First they destroyed the furniture in the Church and then started beating up believers who were gathered in the church for worship, Pastor Robert Solomon D’Souza told ICC.
Radical Hindus Interrupt Church in Southern India
“The whole scene of a mob assaulting my believers was shocking and very frightening,” Pastor Robert, who has served as a pastor at Calvary Apostolic Church for the last 12 years, told ICC. ” The children and women were crying aloud as they were beaten up by the mob,” he recalled.
The women activists of the Hindu radical group attacked not only the women and children in the church, but they also attacked the pastor, hitting him with their fists and hands.
Pastor Robert said he was threatened by Mr. Rajendran and told to vacate the church. He told me, “We do not want a church in this place. You better leave this place or face the consequences.”
The attackers also used wooden sticks and iron rods, severely injuring several of the worshipers.
Mr. Kribakaran, a 35-year-old man, was one of those wounded in the attack.
He was hit in the head with an iron rod. Kribakaran had a deep cut on his head and collapsed from the wounds.
He was taken to the hospital for treatment and spent two days in the hospital, as the injury was very severe.
Two others were reported to have been admitted to the hospital with broken limbs.
There is a local police station nearby but they failed to intervene and stop the attack, according to Asia News. Pastor Robert was taken to the station for questioning following the incident. The police, however, did not file a First Information Report (FIR) documenting the incident, which would then lead to further investigation.
ICC has been closely following the spike in attacks by Hindu radicals since the election of BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in May 2014. ICC has produced a Two-Part Special Report on the violence, specifically focusing on Uttar Pradesh state where 600 incidents of communal violence were reported in just the first 100 days of BJP rule.
ICC Regional Manager Todd Daniels said, “This represents another instance of a growing hostility along religious lines across India. It is extremely troubling to see a vicious attack on a place of worship and worshipers. Equally as troubling is the lack of response both by local and national officials to these kinds of attacks. Rather than taking steps to prevent these attacks, their inactivity perpetuates a culture of impunity that will lead to even more violence. We urge the Indian government, along with political and religious leaders, to address these issues of religious based violence so that all Indians – regardless of their faith – are free to worship without out fear of violence.”
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