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By ICC's India Correspondent
International Christian Concern
Mahabubnagar District is known to be one of the toughest districts for Christians to live in. Attacks on Christians by Hindu radicals continues to increase in the Mahabubnagar District of Telangana state with the latest being the third in just a 30 day period.
The latest shocking incident once again exposed the brutality of the Sangh Parivar and shook the Christian community in the district to its core. The attack took place on April 8, 2015 at approximately 9:30 p.m. when more than 100 people, believed to be the members of right wing Hindu hardline groups, including the RSS, ABVP, VHP and Bajrangdal, ransacked a Christian gathering at Pebber town, amid police protection.
The incident took place when an Independent Church, Kristu Prema Krupa Mandiram, organized three days of revival meetings in an open area from April 6-8, 2015. More than 300 Christians gathered from nearby villages for the meetings. On the final day during the final session, a mob of Hindu radicals stormed into the meeting with wooden clubs, iron rods, and knives. The attackers, with their well thought-out plans, first destroyed the lights and then broke the PA (public address) system while shouting loud anti-Christian slogans.
More than half a dozen Christians sustained severe injuries, as the attackers carried out the violence, hitting Christians indiscriminately, smashing toes and hitting them on their heads. An eyewitness told ICC that people ran to the bushes nearby to save themselves from the hands of the attackers, but they still did not leave them alone. Pastor Sudhakar, in charge of the 'Prayer Power Church' in the same town, was at the meeting on that day and almost died. As he ran to the nearby bushes in the dark, the attackers chased him and caught hold of him, and beat him cruelly until he passed out. Pastor Sudhakar has been targeted by Hindu radicals previously as he leads a growing church. The attackers left him in the bushes, thinking that he was dead. Later, a group of Christians took him to the hospital for treatment.
An elderly man selling Bibles and other literature at a book table was also attacked during the incident and was also severely injured. Mr. Pratap, one of the organizers of the meeting told ICC,"It is very difficult to know everything that happened to Christians in the attack because, first, it was dark and, second, the Christians fled to different directions to save their lives from the hands of attackers and they might have gotten the treatment on their own and do not want to be identified fearing further assaults."
A First Information Report has been filed under sections 147, 148, 324, 427, 295, 506, R/W 149 of the Indian Penal Code. Mr. Pratap, who is also a Christian rights activist, claimed that, "We will not compromise on the issue, until the perpetrators are brought under the law of the land. We are firm on this decision, as we might become more vulnerable in the hands of radical Hindu extremists."
Though a case has been booked on the attackers, no arrests were made until a Christian delegation met the state's Home Minister. Through the pressure from the Christian community, eight people were arrested a few days later, but were released immediately on bail.
Christian leaders from the Mahabubnagar District are planning to have a peaceful demonstration tomorrow, May 2, in Hyderabad, the state capital. At this rally these leaders will express their distress over the increased anti-Christian attacks in the district over the last couple of months. They will also express solidarity with other victims of Christian persecution and will appeal for government protection of religious minorities in the district.
In another incident in the same district on Easter Sunday this year, Hindu radicals deliberately placed a saffron flag, a significant Hindu nationalist symbol, inside a church compound. Later, radicals dragged Pastor Christopher to the police station, while manhandling him and his assistant pastor, harassing them for raising objections for placing the saffron flags in the church premises. Recently, placing saffron flags within church premises has become a pattern of the Hindu hardline groups in order to disturb the peace and create divides among communities.
Pastor Christopher was forced to sign on the compromise letter that restricted the freedom of the minorities. Pastor Christopher said, "I had no other option left, as I was threatened by the authorities and by Hindu radicals to sign."
There is growing sense of fear among the religious minorities in India, particularly among the Christians of Mahabubnagar District. There is no other option aside from turning to the authorities, but if the authorities are not concerned, where should the Christians turn? Thankfully, the Bible says that we can bring all circumstances and requests to God in prayer. Please join us in praying for the Christians of this community.
For interviews, contact William Stark, Regional Manager for South Asia:
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