An Indian Christian leader was almost killed in an attack Sunday night by Hindu extremists during a prayer service in the city of Davangere.
Pastor Isaac Samuel, coordinator of the Global Council of Indian Christians, was seriously injured when he was hit between his neck and shoulder with a cleaver, in front of his wife and two sons, as he led the meeting.
He was taken to Chigateri hospital for treatment. He had to undergo a blood transfusion and receive twelve stitches to close the wound.
Police have arrested a man identified only by the name of Bansava, following an investigation.
Sajan George, president of GCIC, accused the attackers of having a “clear intention of killing him,” but was relieved Samuel survived and thanked God that “the blade missed his head.”
He also criticized the anti-conversion laws currently upheld in several Indian states, labeling the laws as an “excuse for anti-Christian violence.”
“The government of the Bharatiya Janata Party must realize that the anti-conversion law has a history of misuse by Hindu fundamentalists,” he said, according to AsiaNews.
Though India’s constitution provides for freedom of religion, six out of 28 states restrict this freedom with legislation that allows for punishment of religious converts who do not inform the state.
Although the laws do not exist in Karnataka in southern India where the incident occurred, there has been a strong demand to introduce similar policies.
A recent report by the Evangelical Fellowship of India shows a spike in violence against Indian Christians over the past decade, with 149 attacks in 2010.
The majority of cases took place within four states, indicating “attacks on Christians are not stray incidents but are part of a systematic campaign by influential [Hindu nationalist] organizations,” the EFI report states.
Violence against Christians escalated in 2008 when Hindu extremists murdered 110 Christians and destroyed 170 churches and 4,500 homes following the murder of one Hindu leader.
Hinduism is the main religion in India, with around 80 percent of the 1.1 billion people being Hindu. Christians account for 2.3 percent of the population.