Modi urged to take action against violent extremists after brutal attack on prayer meeting in India
Church leaders have urged India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take immediate action against violent extremists after a series of attacks against Christians left a pastor and two of his congregation badly beaten.
The Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI) called on the government and district authorities to take steps to safeguard the rights of religious minority communities and to provide protection for churches against attack.
On 29 July, a mob of extremists attacked two Christian men and verbally abused Christian women as they made their way to a prayer meeting at a home in Kanshiram Colony, Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh. The mob then dragged the pastor from the prayer meeting and brutally beat him.
The extremists launched another violent attack on the pastor at the local police station where all three Christian men were detained for five hours. No action was taken against the attackers, but the Christians were warned by the police not to gather to pray again.
Also in Uttar Pradesh, on 29 July, extremists threatened a pastor in Maharajganj district. While, on 4 August, two Christians were confronted in Dindigul district, Tamil Nadu and taken to the local police station on allegations that they were involved in forced conversion. The Christians were later released.
In another incident, two police officers ordered a church service to be stopped in Bhiwani district, Haryana on 28 July. They took the pastor and two members of the congregation to the police station before releasing them without charge.
EFI said that targeted violence and hate crime directed against Christians in Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, almost tripled in 2018 compared to the previous year. Its annual report, published in February 2019, stated that there were 132 persecution incidents in the state in 2018, compared to 50 in 2017.
In India as a whole, there were 325 recorded incidents of Christians being targeted in 2018. This was slightly lower than in 2017 when the figure rose to 351, but about twice as high as the annual numbers reported in any year from 2012-2015.