Church in Central India attacked by extremist mob

January 5, 2023 by Lindy Lowry in Asia

Church in Central India attacked by extremist mob

They kept coming. Men, women, young, old—protesters armed with rocks, iron rods and wooden sticks continued to gather as they walked toward 50-year-old Sacred Heart Church at Edka village in Narayanpur district. Our local partner in Central India just sent video footage of the local mob of 1,000 extremists attacking a church in India’s Chhattisgarh state. The attack occurred on January 2, 2023.

Reportedly, the mob was protesting “illegal” conversions and construction of churches. In the video above, you can see the mob throwing rocks and using sticks to bash in windows of the church building and church vehicles located in Narayanpur city.

Our local source shared a report from the area church leader:

“Dear sisters and brothers, it pains me to report the law and order situation has become very bad as Christians are being targeted and attacked. This afternoon, a crowd of 1,000 people came to attack the Narayanpur Catholic Church and have destroyed the church and presbytery. They are going to attack our other institutions.”

“A tense situation prevails here,” Father Jomon Devasia, the parish priest of Sacred Heart Church, told UCA News. “The mob destroyed everything, the church and the presbytery.”

UCA News cited “church sources,” explaining that the attack stems from non-Christian indigenous people insisting that Christians give up their faith and return to tribal practices. But Christians refused to renounce their faith.Reportedly, in the last few months more than 1,000 believers have been driven out of their homes near Narayanpur.

The Indian Express also reported the mob attacked the police team responding to the incident, injuring the police superintendent and other police staff. As the video below shows, at one point police forces stood by, watching the frenzied mob vandalize the church instead of working to stop the violence. It took around an hour for the police to bring the situation under control.

India-based media outlets are reporting that the police in the province filed reports charging criminal conspiracy, attempt to murder a government service, assault of government servants, rioting and unlawful assembly. Five people were arrested, including local BJP leader Rupsai Salam. So far, we don’t know why the five were singled out and the rest of the mob was not arrested or detained for questioning.

Reportedly. the day of the arrest, The Indian Express reported that during the state assembly BJP legislators accused the government of “turning a blind eye” to religious conversions and took exception to party functionaries being held responsible for the violence against the church in Narayanpour.

Vandalism of church buildings and house churches continue to flare up in Central India. Global Christian Relief is calling on Indian authorities at the national and state levels to immediately halt mob violence against Christian communities in the country. 

“If strong action isn’t taken quickly, there is a very real risk these attacks will spiral into even more widespread violence against Chhattisgarh’s Christian community and elsewhere,” said David Curry, CEO and President of Global Christian Relief. Local police need to consult with local Christian leaders and respond to any requests for help before further damage can be done. We will also be asking the U.S. State Department to raise these concerns with the Indian government. 

We are still getting details, but church leaders are asking us to pray now: “Please pray for safety, protection and peace,” the area archbishop noted.

This is what persecution looks like for our sisters and brothers in Central India. It’s often in mobs in broad daylight and extremely violent. Please share and encourage others to pray.

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