(International Christian Concern) – On January 9, a house church in India’s Chhattisgarh state was brutally attacked by a mob of radical Hindu nationalists. According to local reports, two Christians sustained severe injuries, requiring hospitalization. Additionally, five Christian families fled the village, located in the Kondagaon District, in fear for their safety.
According to Pastor Hemanth Kandapan, the attack began when a single radical named Sanjith Ng broke into the worship service taking place in Odagoan village. Once inside, Ng began to beat members of the congregation and Pastor Kandapan. Eventually, Ng dragged Pastor Kandapan out of the house where a mob of more than 200 had gathered.
Local sources report the mob brutally beat Pastor Kandapan and another Christian named Sankar Salam. As a result, both Pastor Kandapan and Salam were hospitalized with severe internal injuries.
As the mob attacked, they used foul language against the Christians, claiming they were illegally converting Hindus to Christianity. The mob went on to threaten the Christians, saying they would be killed if they continued to hold prayers in the village.
“I was under house arrested for nearly nine hours,” Pastor Kandapan, told International Christian Concern (ICC). “All through that time I was hackled and abused by the mob even in the presence of the police.”
The next day, January 10, leaders of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) forced the Christian villagers of Odagoan to participate in a Ghar Wapsi program. During this program, Sunderi Bathi, a Christian woman, was forcibly converted to Hinduism.
Five Christian families have fled Odagoan fearing the radicals’ threats. These families have taken shelter in nearby villages.
“The situation in the village is still tense,” Pastor Kandapan told ICC. “We do not know how long these families will have to stay out of their homes.”
Attacks on Christians and their places of worship in Chhattisgarh have been on the rise in recent months. Hate speeches made by radical Hindu nationalists have gone unchecked in Chhattisgarh for months. In late December, Hindu nationalist leaders called for Christians to be shot if they were caught engaging in conversion activities.