As vehement Hindu nationalism is on the rise in India, we have received numerous reports of violent rhetoric and even attacks blamed on the increasingly vocal partisan sect.
A church in India that has peacefully coexisted within its community for decades was the scene of a terrifying attack earlier this month, causing church leaders to call on authorities to take urgent action to address the violence.
The attack took place in the town of Roorkee in the Haridwar district of the Indian state of Uttarakhand, according to the Catholic news agency UCA News.
On the morning of Sunday, October 3, worshippers were gathering for a regular prayer service when a mob of 200 descended on the church, shouting Hindu nationalist slogans and wielding iron rods.
The assailants, which were identified by witnesses as members of the Hindu nationalist groups Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), and Bajrang Dal in the first information report filed by church leader Prio Sadhana Lanse. The mob also destroyed furniture, photographs, and assaulted congregants.
Three women were severely injured and rushed to the hospital.
The mob accused the church members of being engaged in illegal conversion activities. In several Indian states including Uttarakhand, conversions that are perceived as being coerced or forced are against the law. Such policies are often leveraged to target religious minorities like Christians.
“The church that was attacked has been active for the past 30-40 years. It was run by Pastor Lanse who died last year due to Covid-19. His wife and relatives are now running the church,” Methodist Church Reverend Titoo Peter told UCA News, also explaining that Roorkee’s Christians have long enjoyed a harmonious relationship with their neighbors of other faiths.
“It is the handiwork of some bad elements who do not want peace and harmony in the area. We condemn the act,” he stated.
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