BANGALORE, India (Christian Examiner) – Voice of the Martyrs, which assists persecuted Christians around the world, recently reported more than 30 Hindu extremists stormed a house church meeting when Pastor Arul was in the midst of his sermon.
"They began to beat him in the face, head and chest," VOM said. "Omkar, another church leader, tried to stop the attack, but he was overpowered."
"Although India's constitution allows religious freedom, attacks on Christians have risen in the last year. Hindu nationalist groups such as the Bharatiya Janata Party, the largest political party in India, and Rashtriya Swayamesevak Sangh, a Hindu nationalist organization, feel greater freedom to act now that BJP leader Narendra Modi is prime minister of India," Mission Network News reported April 22.
The extremists dragged the two Christians out of the building, and punched and kicked them about a quarter-mile to a police station, according to VOM. There the Christians were charged with "forcing conversions," which is a crime in many Indian states.
It was a "crime" that had not been long in the developing.
Evangelist Omkar came to the town to start a work, met Arul, and soon about 20 people were meeting on Sundays, according to VOM. A month after the house church began, the leaders were warned.
Then the extremists began to pressure the building's owner to evict the church, VOM reported. Undeterred, the two men continued their ministry until the Sunday they were hospitalized with their injuries.
Elsewhere in India angry Muslims demanded Vijay, a new resident in their neighborhood, pay a 20,000 rupee fine (about $315.20 US) to the police "in front of his accusers, who would not guarantee his safety unless he did so," reported a VOM partner. Six Muslims had beaten the new convert in early February.
"Angry men from the local mosque formally brought a complaint to the police against him [the Christian] for entering their community and sharing his faith," reported VOM, which helped Vijay moved to a nearby neighborhood where Christians, Muslims and Hindi live.
More than 1.25 billion people live in India and about 79 percent of the population follow the tenets of Hinduism; another 15 percent adhere to Islam; and Christians make up 2.5 percent of the nation, according to the latest government census.