Christians flee Indian village after Hindu mob brutally attacked pastor and church member

A house church in the Indian state of Chhattisgarh was reportedly attacked by a mob of 200 hardline Hindu nationalists earlier this month, leaving two Christians seriously injured.

International Christian Concern (ICC) reports that the brutal attack began when a radical named Sanjith Ng burst into a worship service being held in the village of Odagoan on January 9.

After entering the church, Ng attacked members of the congregation, beat them, then dragged Pastor Hemanth Kandapan outside where a crowd was waiting. Villagers said the mob beat Kandapan and another Christian named Sankar Salam so badly that they were both hospitalized with serious internal injuries.

During the attack, the mob cursed the Christians and accused them of illegally converting Hindus to Christianity. Both men were told they would be killed if they continued to hold prayer events in the village.

“I was under house arrest for almost nine hours,” Kandapan told the ICC. “Throughout this period, I was harassed and abused by the mob, even in the presence of the police.”

A day after the attack, a Christian woman named Sunderi Bathi was forced to convert to Hinduism. Leaders of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) also urged other Christian villagers in Odagoan to participate in the Ghar Wapsi ritual, which means ‘to come home’.

Fearing for their lives, at least five Christian families fled Odagoan and took refuge in nearby villages.

“The situation in the village is still tense,” Pastor Kandapan told the ICC. “We don’t know how long these families will have to stay out of their homes.”

Like CBN News reported, Christian leaders in India have demanded that local law enforcement authorities respond with “strict actions” to such incidents.

For example, three Christian women were seriously injured in October when a huge mob of radical Hindu nationalists attacked worshipers at a church in the Indian state of Uttarakhand.

The attackers were identified as members of the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), VHP and Bajrang Dal. They claimed their actions were appropriate and accused the church of engaging in illegal conversion activities.

Hindu radicals also ambushed four Christian women in August as they gathered to pray together in the Indian village of Sarurpur. The women’s injuries ranged from a broken leg to a serious head injury.

And in July, Pastor Balwinder “Bagicha” Bhatti was found dead near a street in Ferozpur, Punjab. The Protestant pastor was ambushed, beaten and fatally stabbed in the back of the head with a sharp weapon.

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Christina A. Kroll