More than 20 injured in extremist attack on Christians in India

More than 20 injured in extremist attack on Christians in India

An attack on Christians in India has sent more than 20 to the hospital, including three who were in critical condition with severe injuries.

On February 13, 2024, a mob of at least 150 Hindu extremists attacked a small Methodist church in the village of Janwada, located in Telangana state in central India. Church members were brutally beaten with stones, weapons, and large bamboo sticks while the doors and roof of the church were also damaged. The attackers chanted Hindu nationalist slogans during the assault as they vandalized the building, broke chairs and destroyed Christian symbols.

“We deeply grieve that the attackers did not even spare women and children,” said Reverend Naveen Solomon, pastor of the Janwada Methodist Church. “Three of our children who had come to the church for a music lesson were also beaten up and received injuries. A girl of 12 received injuries on her face from a stone.”

Instead of seeking justice against the attackers, local police registered a case against 27 of the Christians present. Six were arrested and 21 received anticipatory bail, avoiding jail time. The arrested Christians were still in prison as of February 26.

“Our believers were attacked and injured and our Church was broken and desecrated,” said Solomon. “Yet the police filed a case against us, putting charges as grave as attempted murder, even though there is not a scratch on the attackers.”

The three Christians who were seriously injured in the attack were still hospitalized but expected to be discharged.

Janwada is about 15 miles from the state’s capital city Hyderabad, a prominent IT and business center. There has been a Christian presence in Janwada, including this Methodist congregation, since 1947.

On February 21, St. John’s Cemetery, a historic Christian burial ground in nearby Secunderabad, was desecrated. Graves were damaged and crosses were destroyed. Community leaders have called on the government to find and punish those responsible.

These attacks come amid rising Hindu nationalism that has empowered radicals to target religious minorities. Christians make up only about 1.5% of Telangana’s population and have historically lived peacefully alongside Hindus. However, they now feel unsafe to worship.

“We have had very good relations with the community here, so this attack was shocking,” said Solomon.

While police have arrested few attackers, Christians say much more must be done to deter further violence and bring healing between communities. They are requesting prayers for protection and resilience.

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