Hindu Extremists Attack 70 Christians, Including Children, as They Traveled Home from Conference Focused on Praying for Peace in India

Protesters hold placards during a rally by hundreds of Christians against recent attacks on churches nationwide, in Mumbai, India, February 9, 2015. | Reuters/Danish Siddiqui

Hindu extremists brutally attacked a group of about 70 Christians, including children, as they traveled home from a national congress focused on praying for peace in India amid escalating persecution.

According to Christian Solidarity Worldwide, three men on motorcycles attacked Christians traveling home from the Third National Congress of the Synod of Pentecostal Churches in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, on Feb 5.

The men verbally threatened the passengers before smashing the windshields of the vehicles, causing injury to the driver and passengers, which included women, children and the elderly.

Pastor Paul Raj, one of the passengers, immediately called the police, who arrived at the scene a short time later. A First Information Report, which is necessary to start an investigation, has been registered against the perpetrators and investigations have been initiated.

Local sources report that the attack is believed to have been perpetrated by religious extremists who were aware of the national congress and planned the ambush on the Christians.

CSW’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas called the attack a “worrying example of the religious intolerance and violence that is being allowed to fester and take root in the largest democracy in the world.”

“Religious minorities in India should feel safe and free to practice and profess their religion or belief without any fear of reproach, and we call on the authorities to put an end to all forms of institutional propaganda that incite hate toward religious minorities,” Thomas said. “The police must follow up with a thorough investigation of this incident and not allow themselves to be influenced by hardline religious nationalists as they seek to hold those responsible to account.”

CSW notes that the National Congress of the Synod of Pentecostal Churches was attended by about 100,000 people. The event focused on calling on Christians to pray for peace in India at a time when “Christians are experiencing a rising number of hate campaigns that involve church closures, prayer meeting disruptions, police complicity and targeted attacks with impunity by non-state actors.”

During the event, the leadership of the Synod called on the government of India to protect religious minorities in the country and to respect the fundamental freedoms of the Indian Constitution.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Leah MarieAnn Klett