Indian Christians, as well as their homes and churches, have been violently attacked in a series of assaults orchestrated by Hindu extremists. Please be aware that this video includes footage of distressing violence.
For many hundreds of Christians in Chhattisgarh State, India, 2023 has already been a very difficult year. In many parts of India, anti-Christian sentiment is getting worse and worse among those influenced by ‘Hindutva’ ideology that says all Indians must be Hindus. And this leads to violent mobs attacking Christians, as well as their churches, homes and businesses.
Back in December, mobs attacked tribal Christians in Chhattisgarh, leaving thousands displaced from their homes. Five hundred of these believers were housed in a hall with a single toilet. On 2 January 2023, they were attacked again.
The mob came back and, as well as attacking these displaced Christians, went door to door threatening other believers – telling them they had to leave their homes and their villages. These vigilantes also attacked churches and other buildings, as shown in the footage above. These video clips, filmed on mobile phones, were distributed widely on social media and shared with Open Doors partners by local Christians. Rather than being ashamed of their actions, persecutors in India often post footage like this themselves. (Please be aware that the video includes scenes of distressing violence.)
"These were well-weaponised gangs who had planned these attacks in advance." Rohan Paul
“The Christians in Chhattisgarh were accused of following a foreign religion,” says Open Doors local partner Roshan Paul (name changed). “The persecutors alleged that the Christians were attacking the traditional way of life of tribal people.”
As Paul shares, attacks like these are not spur-of-the-moment acts of violence. “These were well-weaponised gangs who had planned these attacks in advance. Many of them had swords and stones,” he says. “The current drive against tribal Christians appears to be a cynical and toxic ploy by the fundamentalists to divide the community along lines of religion.” These Hindu fundamentalists didn’t do well in the region in the last assembly elections, and experts believe these tactics are intended to win them votes by stirring up religious partisanship.
“The authorities took no steps to address the issue or ensure security of the Christians,” adds Paul. “Neither the administration nor the local police have taken any steps to curb or restrain the rallies and meetings of the anti-Christian elements, which are openly mobilising and instigating locals against Christians and church leaders.
"Anti-Christian elements are openly mobilising and instigating locals against Christians." Rohan Paul
“Authorities knew that meetings were being held for fresh attacks, but they did no preventive measures. Instead, the authorities are shutting down the community shelters and forcibly returning the people to their villages amidst raging violence.”
As Paul says, police have been forcing Christians back to the communities that have persecuted them – and many believers have been beaten and attacked on their return. During these latest attacks, some police officers did come to the aid of Christians – but the mob also attacked them. The above video shows one of the injured police officers.
The situation remains very sensitive and critical. Many hundreds of Christians are still living in poorly equipped shelters. Those who return to their villages don’t just face violence – they’ve also lost their livelihoods, possessions and homes, and so have very precarious futures. Since the attack, Open Doors local partners have stayed with the displaced believers, offering encouragement and lobbying for better conditions. Please pray for our desperate brothers and sisters.
India is currently number 10 on the Open Doors World Watch List, and there have been worries that anti-Christian sentiment is growing in the country – including the threat of a nationwide anti-conversion law, which (if it follows similar laws in some Indian states) would be likely to be abused to target and harass Christians.
You have the opportunity to join together in London to pray for Christians from India and many other countries at the World Watch List 2023 launch prayer evening. Join in person or online.
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