Hindu extremists in India attack praying pastor, family with sharp weapons

Indian Catholic devotees offer the way of the cross prayers after an Ash Wednesday service at Saint Mary's Basilica in Secunderabad, the twin city of Hyderabad, on March 5, 2014.
Indian Catholic devotees offer the way of the cross prayers after an Ash Wednesday service at Saint Mary's Basilica in Secunderabad, the twin city of Hyderabad, on March 5, 2014. | AFP via Getty Images/Noah Seelam

While praying, a Christian pastor and his family were brutally attacked by radical Hindu extremists wielding sharp weapons amid an uptick in incidents of religious persecution in the country.

Asia News reports that Pastor Rajesh Gupta was praying in the home of another believer when the Hindu radicals attacked him and his family. 

A friend rescued Gupta and his family and drove them to the hospital, where his wife remains hospitalized with a fractured hand and leg, according to Asia News.

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The beating of Gupta and his family marks the second attack against Christians carried out by groups of suspected Hindu radicals in Faridabad in recent months.

On June 20, a group of Hindu fundamentalists attacked an education center that is part of the Grace Assembly of God Church in Faridabad and placed a Hindu deity statue inside.

"The renovation of the church was going on when the extremists pulled down the under-construction wall and gate of the church" and installed the idol and manhandled the pastors, Pastor Ivan Power, head of the Assembly of God in northern India, told UCA News.

The Hindus claimed that a Hindu temple had existed on the same site as the church. However, the Christian church had been worshipping in that location for the past 15 years and the land was purchased from a local person who occupied it for 47 years prior to that purchase.

The Hindus continue to offer daily prayers before the monkey-headed Hindu god, according to church officials, who have accused local police of turning a blind eye to the incident. 

Open Doors USA, a religious freedom monitoring group that operates in 60 countries, ranks India as the 10th worst country in the world when it comes to Christian persecution. 

Open Doors notes that incidents of persecution against Christians in India have increased since the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party took power in 2014. Often, Hindu radicals “attack Christians with little to no consequences.”

“The view of the Hindu nationalists is that to be Indian is to be Hindu, so any other faith — including Christianity — is viewed as non-Indian,” an Open Doors fact sheet on India reads.

Persecution against Christians in India rose by over 40% in the first half of 2020, according to a recent report from Persecution Relief. The group recorded 293 incidents of anti-Christian persecution in the first six months of the year, including five religious-motivated rapes and six religiously-motivated murders.

“In most cases, the attackers are right-wing Hindus who want to turn India into a Hindu-only nation,” Shibu Thomas, the founder of Persecution Relief, told UCA News. “They are opposed to Christians and missionary work.”

A recent report from United Christian Forum in India, a Christian organization that advocates on behalf of Christians in India, found that attacks on Christians and their places of worship in India continued to escalate in both number and severity in the early months of 2020, with 27 violent incidents reported in March alone.

It was recently reported that three Christians in Ranjitpur village, Bihar state were brutally beaten by Hindu extremists angered by the believers’ acceptance of what they called a “foreign faith and “foreign God.” 

In July, a woman in Redhadi, a village in India’s Khunti district, who had recently converted to Christianity, was brutally murdered by four youths associated with a Hindu fanatic group. 

The woman was the fifth Christian to be murdered in India in the last two months. Previous killings included a woman, a teenager, and a pastor — all targeted for their faith. The killings took place in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha, and Maharashtra.

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