Hindu nationalists in India have falsely accused Christian missionaries of being behind the lynching of two Hindu priests, placing the country’s already-persecuted Christian minority further at risk.
UCA News reports that after two Hindu priests and their driver were murdered by a mob in Gadchindhali village in Maharashtra’s Palghar district in April, Christians were quickly blamed for the killing despite no clear evidence that any believers were involved.
The three individuals were on their way from Mumbai’s Kandivili to Silvassa to attend a funeral when they were stopped by a vigilante group that was set up by locals to patrol during the night, the Times of India reported.
After questioning the men they suspected of being kidnappers or robbers, the mob pelted stones at them and later beat them with sticks. Though police attempted to intervene, the mob killed the three travelers. The police have detained over 100 people and nine minors in connection with the lynching.
Days later, Rakesh Sinha, a member of parliament from the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party and a senior spokesperson for the Hindu extremist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, claimed on national television that Christian missionaries and the Communist Party of India were behind the murders, UCA News reports.
Without providing any evidence for his allegation, Sinha claimed Hindus would not attack priests unless caught in immoral acts and a mob of some 200 people could not come together late at night without being organized by a leader.
Insisting it was a planned murder involving Christians and communists, Sinha said: “A probe will prove it. But I’m making an allegation.”
According to The Wire, videos of the incident also began circulating on social media, with some insinuating it was a communally-motivated crime committed by members of either the Christian or Muslim communities.
An image of the two deceased men was also shared on social media with a graphic that accuses “the goons of Christian missionaries” for the attack.
However, the state’s Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray repeatedly clarified that the killings had no sectarian angle.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Leah MarieAnn Klett