02/10/2021 India (International Christian Concern) – According to local sources, a Christian prayer meeting in southern India was attack by radical Hindu nationalists in Late-January. Survivors of the attack report the nationalists beat the Christians gathered for prayer and publically burned a Bible as a symbol of erasing Christianity from the village.
The attack took place on January 31 in Sarakonda village, located in India’s Telangana state. According to local Christians, a mob of ten nationalists attacked a prayer meeting being held inside the home of a Christian.
“Without saying a word, they rush towards me and started to beat me,” Pastor Zachariah told International Christian Concern (ICC). “They punched me and I fell to the ground. They also took the Bible I was holding.”
Other Christians were also beaten by the nationalists, some wielding chairs. The nationalists also damaged a keyboard, a speaker system, and a microphone.
After the assault, the nationalists warned Pastor Zachariah that he was no longer allowed to lead Christian prayers in Sarakonda. They warned Pastor Zachariah and other Christians of severe consequences if their demands were not met.
The nationalists then took Pastor Zachariah’s Bible to the village square and burned it publically. The nationalists claimed it was a mark of erasing Christianity from Sarakonda.
Pastor Zachariah serves as the head pastor of Pentecostal Prardana Madiram in Sarakonda. In the past, the church has faced numerous threats from nationalists attempted to shut down the church’s activities.
Pastor Zachariah reported the incident to police and police registered a First Information Report (FIR no. 11/2021). In response, police arrested ten individuals accused of participating in the attack and sent them to jail.
Other Christians in the district organized a peaceful rally in response to the attack. More than 2,000 participated in the rally calling for local authorities to better protect Christians and their places of worship.