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By ICC's India Correspondent
International Christian Concern
India's Christians continue to face growing challenges to the free exercise of their faith. The challenges faced by Christ Calvary Konda Church are just a recent example of how Hindu radical groups are freely operating against India's Christian minority and infringing upon the Christians' religious freedom.
A mob of radicals approaching the Christ Calvary Konda Church right before their attack on the service
The members of Christ Calvary Konda Church, located in India's Andhra Pradesh state, have been meeting for worship in a makeshift shed every Sunday since 2004. According to Pastor Anand Raj, the head of Christ Calvary Konda Church, on June 28 while the service was taking place, a mob of radicals carrying saffron flags and large sticks advanced toward the church chanting anti-Christian slogans. As the radicals approached, they painted over the church's signboard located at the entrance of the church from the main road.
According to local sources, the radicals then threw stones at the Christians fleeing the church when the mob broke into the church compound. Pastor Raj and his family members ran and hid themselves in the nearby bushes as the attackers threatened to kill the church's pastor.
Police arrived on the scene after the pastor made a phone call about the situation. The police took both Christians and radicals to the police station and released all with only a warning. The police then refused to file an FIR for the Christians against the radicals for the assault, despite the insistence of church members.
Following the assault, police have ordered the pastor not to hold any more church services until further notice and have posted a police constable at the church entrance to make sure the church remains closed.
Pastor Anand Raj, while speaking with ICC, said, "I am very fearful and scared of the entire situation, now that the Hindu radicals have seen us and our children, sending them to schools and colleges is real concern for us. We do know what will happen. What grieves us the most is that the authorities have asked us to close down the church. We have no other place for us to gather and have a worship service."
Pastor Raj went on to say that, "This is not the first time, the Hindu radicals attacked us. In April 2011, the radicals vandalized the church, destroyed the musical instruments, and burnt the Bibles." He continued, "Again in 2013, the electricity was disconnected to the church by the authorities through the sheer influence and involvement of radical Hindu organizations."
There have been four instances of religiously motivated violence in Adoni in the past year, all targeting Christians and churches. Reverend Prabhudas, secretary of Adoni Christians United Church Association (ACUCA), told ICC, "This is unacceptable to attack those who praying on their own and are not doing any harm to anybody. This is a secular country. We request both the authorities and the government to bring the perpetrators to books and protect Christians and churches."
ACUCA released a memorandum on June 29 that "requested [authorities] to protect Christian minorities and churches and take an immediate action on the attackers who attempted to kill Pastor Anand Raju and his wife Mrs. Ratnamma."
The activities of the Hindu radicals in Andhra Pradesh were illegal; however, it was the Christian victims of these radicals' actions who were punished by local authorities when their church was shut down. Will the authorities act on the injustices suffered by India's Christian minorities or will they continue to allow them to suffer unjustly at the hand of Hindu radicals?
For interviews, contact William Stark, Regional Manager for South Asia: RM-SAsia@persecution.org
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