Christians Join Protests in India Against Hindu Radicals Killing People Over 'Cow Devotion'
Christians in India have joined thousands to protest against mob violence and murders that have been committed by Hindu radicals over their religious beliefs.
The Baptist Press reported on Wednesday that the protests, under the rallying cry "Not in My Name," have been raging in at least eight cities in the nation since June.
Minorities are speaking out against a number of murders, including the lynching of a Muslim teenage boy two weeks ago who was accused of eating beef, which goes against the beliefs of the country's Hindu majority.
Although most Indian states ban the consumption of cows, minorities such as Christians, Muslims, Sikhs and Jains depend on them for food.
The protesters, which included Hindus, chanted that the killings in the name of patriotism and "cow devotion" were "not in my name."
United Christian Forum president Michael Williams claimed that Hindu radicals are a small but dangerous segment of the population imposing their will on others.
"A small group in India believe that every Indian should follow a particular culture and lifestyle dictated by them," Williams told the Union of Catholic Asian News on June 30. "It cannot exist. Not in my name and not in my constitution. ... You are not protecting the constitution by killing innocents."
Persecution watchdog groups, such as Open Doors, have warned that Christians in India are frequently targeted because of their faith, with the number of attacks increasing every year.
Despite such struggles, Open Doors said in June that Indians continue to convert to Christianity.
One man, identified as Sohan, described what happened to him after he and others in his village decided to follow Christ: "The villagers crowded around us and started punching and kicking us, all over our bodies. They asked us to praise Hindu gods and goddesses. We refused. They kicked us harder."
Hindu radicals also beat a number of Christians in December 2016 for celebrating Christmas, International Christian Concern reported. Hindu extremists broke into a private house in a village in Madhya Pradesh State, where over 30 Christians were singing carols.
The Christians were reportedly dragged onto the streets and beaten. The attackers accused them of carrying out forced conversions in the village, which is an accusation often lobbed at followers of Christ.
"We have carol rounds during the day," a local pastor from the village told ICC at the time.
"Because of fear of attacks from the radical Hindu groups, the Christians of this area are scared and cannot celebrate Christianity freely."
Another 20 Christians from Tikiriya village in Rajasthan State were beaten by 30 suspected radicals with wooden clubs, also in December. Parish priest Fr. Stephen Rawat said that he and the others were specifically targeted for their beliefs.
"I have no enemies. I was beaten because of my Christian faith," the priest said.