Mob vandalizes Delhi church during Sunday mass and beats churchgoers, including women

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As the world focuses on Delhi due to the forthcoming G20 summit in the city, a church in the national capital was attacked and vandalized by a Hindu nationalist mob during Sunday service, leading to several Christians sustaining injuries, according to media reports.

The attack occurred in Delhi’s Tahirpur area, where the mob disrupted prayers and later gathered outside a police station to prevent the filing of a complaint, Indian media outlet The Wire reported.

Members of the Christian community were praying at the Siyyon Prarthna Bhawan when the Hindu nationalists allegedly entered the building, blaring promises of a “Hindu nation” over loudspeakers. The individuals in the mob, who were reportedly holding speakers, blared, “Hindu rashtra banayenge, Jai Shri Ram,” meaning “We will make a Hindu nation, hail Lord Ram.”

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The Christians said they were assaulted with sticks by individuals belonging to the Hindu nationalist group Bajrang Dal. “Every Sunday, when we gather to pray in church, we do so in fear — the fear of being attacked,” a Christian man, who was not identified due to security concerns, was quoted as saying.

When Christians went to the GTB Enclave police station to file a complaint, over 100 people from the Bajrang Dal, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council) and their parent organization, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, gathered outside, chanting “Jai Shri Ram” (hail Lord Ram).”

Shivam, an eyewitness, told The Wire that the mob entered the prayer hall without permission and attacked with sticks, injuring many, including women. Three women claimed the Bajrang Dal members beat them. The women said the men also attempted to remove their clothing.

An alleged member of the RSS, identified only as Anmol, questioned why Christians were praying in a Hindu-majority area and accused them of attempting conversions.

Pastor Satpal Bhati expressed despair over the situation, stating that the Christian community lives in constant fear.

The police registered a complaint against the mob under various sections of the Indian Penal Code.

Minakshi Singh, an activist, confirmed the evidence of the attack and raised questions about the assault on women during the prayer.

The incident has drawn attention to the Narendra Modi government’s record on democratic backsliding and ill-treatment of religious minorities.

A report by the United Christian Forum reveals a significant increase in attacks on Christians since 2014.

Indian media outlet Scroll reported similar details of the attack, including the vandalization of musical instruments.

The first half of 2023 saw a surge in violence against Christians across 23 states in India, according to the UCF, which identified 400 incidents, up from 274 reported over the same period last year.

According to UCF’s findings, the number of violent incidents against Christians has been rising steadily in India since 2014, with a significant spike observed in 2021 and 2022.

For India’s Christians, 2021 was the “most violent year” in the country’s history, with at least 486 violent incidents of Christian persecution reported that year.

“In almost all incidents reported across India, vigilante mobs composed of religious extremists have been seen to either barge into a prayer gathering or round up individuals that they believe are involved in forcible religious conversions,” said that year’s report by the UCF.

The UCF attributed the high incidence of Christian persecution to “impunity,” due to which “such mobs criminally threaten, physically assault people in prayer, before handing them over to the police on allegations of forcible conversions.”

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