Church minister attacked by mob of extremists in Chhattisgarh, India

31 August 2021

A church leader was attacked by a mob of extremists during a Sunday morning service at his home in the village of Polmi, Kabirdham district, in the Indian state of Chhattisgargh.

More than 100 radical Hindutva nationalists stormed into the home of 25-year-old Pastor Kawalsingh Paraste on Sunday 29 August, violently attacking him and damaging Bibles.

Local police confirmed the attack, adding that the pastor had been accused by the extremists of being engaged in conversion activities.

A police statement recounted, “As per the preliminary information, a crowd of over 100 people stormed into [Pastor Paraste’s] house and allegedly damaged articles of worship and household items, and tore scriptures.”

The extremists, the statement continued, “allegedly beat up Paraste and manhandled his family members, including women, and then escaped”.

Church leaders are doubtful that any action will be taken against the attackers, Chhattisgarh Christian Forum president Arun Pannalal predicting that, “a few of them will be called to the police station but no first-information report will be registered.”

“It is very unfortunate that we have witnessed repeated attacks on our Christian brothers and sisters last week,” added Pannalal, “but it is nothing new. We have documented more than 200 such incidents in the state during the past two years.”

Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians, noted that Christians are often the victims of “violence, discrimination and denial of the free practice of worship”.

“India is a secular country,” he explained, “but Indians, especially in Chhattisgarh, are routinely deprived of religious freedom.”

In July 2021 the Superintendent of Police in Sukma district, Chhattisgarh, issued instructions that police officers should keep “consistent watch” on the activities of Christians, accusing them of bribing and coercing people to convert to Christianity.

Dr Joshva Raja John, Associate Director of the Oxford Centre for Religion in Public Life, explained that suspicion of Christians in Chhattisgarh and in other Indian states demonstrates the “false narratives” and “myths” used against Christians by radical Hindutva nationalist groups.

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