By BosNewsLife Asia Service
NEW DELHI, INDIA (BosNewsLife)– Evangelical Christians in southern India struggle to organize Bible studies and worship meetings after a church was reportedly attacked by Hindu militants.
Sajan K. George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), said in a statement that Hindu’s armed with hockey stocks and mason’s hammers raided the Pentecostal Church of the Nazarene in Sehkari Nagar in Uttar Pradesh, beating the pastor and Christians who tried to protect him.
Pastor RC Paul’s daughter was also attacked, he said. They militants were also seen demolishing the cross on the roof of the church building, replacing it by an orange ‘Hindutva’ flag, a symbol of Hindu nationalism.
Christians claimed the mob was led by Hemant Singh, a local of the radical Hindu group Bajrang Dal. Police, who allegedly arrived two hours after the attack began, reportedly detained 14 people, but a dozen suspects were later released.
Hemant Singh and another official Yogendra Kumar, who were publicly identified, have been held for questioning, reports said.
Bajrang Dal had no known comment about the violence.
The July 16 attack, which interrupted a Bible study meeting, added to a series of incidents in the region that rights activists have blamed on hardline nationalist Hindu groups.
George called the situation in Uttar Pradesh “alarming” as the small Christian community is “very vulnerable to attacks by Hindu fundamentalists” which, he said, “are never provoked.”
The Church of the Nazarene, for instance, “has been here since 1991 and has always given help and hope to the people,” Catholic news agency AsiaNews quoted George as saying.
Hindu groups have expressed opposition to the spread of Christianity in the heavily Hindu nation of over one billion people.
GCIC investigators say Hindu mobs earlier attacked devoted Christians in their private homes because of their faith in Jesus Christ.
Local Christians also hold church services in homes.
The GCIC said is has appealed to India’s National Commission for Human Rights to act “against the growing ntolerance that affects the Christian community” and give “security to them and their places of worship.”