Christian persecution continues to climb in India as radical Hindu nationalists attack believers for refusing to re-convert to Hinduism, a persecution watchdog reports.
According to International Christian Concern (ICC), Christians in 20 villages in the Chhattisgarh state of India were attacked last week during church service.
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Hindu nationalists used bamboo sticks to attack believers, looted their homes, and destroyed three churches.
Several people were severely injured and hospitalized, while others fled to the jungle or nearby police stations, but authorities refused to help.
“Small kids and women with their families were sitting in open places in biting cold, with no food or water, warming their hands with their breath,” one witness told ICC.
A church leader said, “These large-scale violent attacks bring back traumatic memories of the Kandhamal anti-Christian riots,” referring to August 2008 when radical Hindu nationalists killed 39 Christians and destroyed 3,906 homes.
“These incidents have shocked the entire Christian community in the state, and the sad thing is that the people in authority did not bother to help,” the leader added.
India ranks as the 10th most risky nation in the world for believers, according to Open Doors USA’s 2022 World Watch List, which ranks countries where persecution is most prevalent.
“The persecution of Christians in India is intensifying as Hindu extremists aim to cleanse the country of their presence and influence,” the World Watch List explained. “The driving force behind this is Hindutva, an ideology that disregards Indian Christians and other religious minorities as true Indians because they have allegiances that lie outside India, and asserts the country should be purified of their presence.”
In November, a mob beat an Indian pastor until he became unconscious because he refused to deny his faith. The crowd assumed he had died and left the scene. After an hour, he regained consciousness.
“Christian persecution has skyrocketed in India since Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his BJP (Bharatiya Janta Party) took power in 2014,” said ICC President Jeff King. “With the goal to set up India as a Hindu nation, they have passed laws and enforced policies targeting Christians. The [recent attacks] are the result of this overarching hostility toward followers of Christ. It has created an increasingly dangerous climate for Indian believers.”
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