Extremists stone, slash Christians in India, claim victory for Hindu goddess

by Stoyan Zaimov, Christian Post Contributor |
People take part in a religious conversion ceremony from Christianity to Hinduism at Hasayan town in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh on Aug. 29, 2014. | PHOTO: REUTERS/ ADNAN ABIDI

Dozens of Christians were stoned, slashed, blooded over Christmas in India at the hands of radical Hindus who objected to their worship.

The Religious Liberty Commission of the Evangelical Fellowship of India shared with Morning Star News that there were at least 18 incidents reported over the Christmas season.

In one of the attacks on December 23 in Kowad village, Kolhapur District in Maharashtra state, 20 or so masked men left seven Christians needing intensive care in hospital.

The radicals attacked a service at the New Life Fellowship Church with swords, knives, iron rods, glass bottles, stones and other sharp objects.

They chanted "Jai Bhawani, Jai Shivaji,"declaring victory for the Hindu goddess Bhawani and warrior king Shivaji.

"They barged into the worship hall and began to throw big stones and empty beer bottles at the worshipers," said Milton Norenj, coordinator of the New Life Fellowship Jadhinglaj.

Pastor Bhimsen Ganpati Chavan said that some 40 people were attending the service when the attack began.

"As soon as they entered, they began to shoot empty beer bottles and stones at the congregation," Chavan explained. "As they stepped forward, they attacked us with swords, iron rods and knives mercilessly, men and women alike."

Swati Chavan, the pastor's wife, was one of the injured.

"I was hit by an iron rod on my hand and received a head injury," she said. "They hit my back repeatedly with their fists, which caused swelling. I had to undergo a head scan to rule out clotting."

The 18 cases the RLC reported on over Christmas were all characterized by police being pressured by Hindu extremists to harass believers with legal problems.

Nehemiah Christie, legal advocacy group Alliance Defending Freedom-India's Tamil Nadu, explained that "they want to create communal disharmony for their own political advantage."

Christie said that the disruption of Christmas processions, services, carols and programs is specifically set up to create disharmony and polarize people.

In another case, a mob of 30 men from the youth-wing of Hindu extremist Vishwa Hindu Parishad stopped four buses carrying 200 children to a Christmas program in Haridwar, Uttarakhand state.

The children were Hindus and were being led to a Christmas program, but their teacher, Sandeep Kashyap, was arrested under the accusation that he was planning on forcefully converting them to Christianity, something which he denied.

Attacks on Christians intensified throughout rural areas in India in 2018, often stemming from accusations by Hindu community leaders that churches and pastors are carrying out forced conversions.

Read more about Christians in India on The Christian Post.