By ICC's India Correspondent
International Christian Concern
Since Prime Minister Modi and his Hindu nationalist BJP took power in India in May 2014, attacks on Christians and their places of worship have skyrocketed. Among the victims of this new wave of persecution now stand the members of the only church in Tadur village located in the Mahabubnagar district of India's Telangana state.
Approximately 70 members of the Parimala Beautiful Church used to meet in a temporary structure constructed of thatches, bamboo and tarps. This humble structure served as the only church in Tadur. On January 16, after the members of the church met for prayers from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., the church was torched by unknown assailants.
At about 8:30 p.m., a local bus driver was passing by the church and noticed smoke and flames were clearly visible coming from the building. Immediately, the bus driver informed the police and the locals about the fire at the church.
Church members, police and a fire engine rushed to the church, but by then more than half of the building had been reduced to ashes. Almost everything inside the church was destroyed by the fire including carpets, instruments, and church literature like songbooks and Bibles.
A First Information Report (FIR) was booked by the police and an investigation is now underway. Fortunately, the police responded quickly and both the Circle Inspector (CI) and the Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) visited the scene the next day.
Pastor D. Srinivas, of Parimala Beautiful Church, told ICC, "I have been serving as the pastor for the last six years in this village. We used to meet at church members' houses, till last year we built a temporary structure."
"Prior to this incident, on number of occasions, right-wing activists have threatened me and warned me not to continue the church in this village," Pastor Srinivas continued. "The Hindu radicals have snatched the Gospel literature from me and destroyed them a number of times in the past."
Mahabubnagar district, where Tadur village is located, has seen over a dozen anti-Christian attacks in the past few months. This wave of persecution at the hands of Hindu hardliners has ranged from physicals attacks on Christians to setting fire to church building to booking false criminal charges against pastors. The Christian community of Mahabubnagar district is gripped with fear as the number of attacks continues to increase against the minority community.
Rev. Ronald John, State Chairman of the Telangana Christian Joint-Action-Committee, told ICC, "The attacks have increased since the BJP formed the government at the center last year. Christians here are living as second class citizens."
Like the Christian community of Mahabubnagar district, Christians across India fear this new wave of persecution that is currently crashing over the country. In a report recently released by the Catholic Secular Forum (CSF), at least 7,000 Christian victims suffered persecution in 2014 alone. Without dramatic change, this number will only increase in 2015.
For interviews, contact William Stark, Regional Manager for South Asia: RM-SAsia@persecution.org
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