Hindu extremists brutally attacked a group of Christians attending a prayer meeting in Hyderabad, India, completely shattering the eardrum of one believer.
According to persecution watchdog International Christian Concern, the attack occurred on Nov. 4 in the Meerpet neighborhood of Hyderabad, India, after a 50-year-old Christian woman named Sadhya invited several members of the church to a prayer meeting at her home.
One of the attendees, Pastor Steven Hanok, told ICC that prior to the meeting, Sadhya had received permission from her Hindu landlord to hold the meeting in her home. Pastor Hanok speculated that the landlord told local nationalists about the prayer meeting.
Shortly after the Christians gathered at Sadhya’s home, 15 Hindu nationalists broke into the house and attacked the worshipers with wooden clubs and sticks. The landlord joined the attack, dragging Pastor Hanok out of the house.
“They came prepared to burn us,” Hanok told ICC. “I saw someone from the group taking petrol out of the fuel tank of a motorbike and heard others directing where the burning would take place.”
“I was panicked as all of this was going on. For 30 minutes the attack continued, but we eventually managed to run in different directions and reached the police station.”
Several Christians were injured in the attack. A Christian man named Janaiah had his eardrum completely shattered, while a Christian woman named Annamma also lost six teeth. Hanok’s car was also damaged.
A complaint was lodged with local police and a First Information Report (FIR no. 773/2020) was filed against the Hindu extremists. Five of the assailants, including two men named Rajesh and Teja, were jailed for their role in the attack.
Such incidents are not uncommon in India, where those who convert to Christianity are seen as part of the lowest caste. India is ranked No. 10 on Open Doors’ 2020 World Watch List of countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian. Open Doors notes that converts to Christianity from a Hindu background are “especially vulnerable to persecution” and are constantly under pressure to return to Hinduism.
According to a new report from the Pew Research Center, the levels of government restrictions on religion and also the levels of social hostilities toward religion in India have increased significantly in recent years.
Pew notes that India’s anti-conversion laws have significantly affected minority religious groups. For example, in Uttar Pradesh state in September, police charged 271 Christians with the attempted conversion of people by drugging and “spreading lies about Hinduism.”
Politicians also made comments targeting religious minorities, while law enforcement officials were involved in cases against religious minorities, Pew reported.
Thomas Schirrmacher, the newly-appointed head of the World Evangelical Alliance, which represents over 600 million evangelical Christians worldwide, told The Christian Post that India’s religious minorities have faced increasing persecution since Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Hindu nationalist BJP party rose to power in 2014.
“Elections are won by the Prime Minister with this topic: ‘India is for the Hindus,’ and suddenly Muslims and Christians find themselves in a country that clearly wants to get rid of them,” he said. “They promote the idea that an Indian by nature is a Hindu. So if he is not a Hindu, he has been stolen and must be re-converted.”
“This idea was not on the market 10 years ago, and has led to an increase in discrimination and killings of Indian Christians and other minorities,” he said.