12/10/2021 India (International Christian Concern) –
On November 28, a Christian home in Central India was set on fire by suspected radical Hindu nationalists. As a result, a Christian family, who has been harassed because of their faith for years, lost all their worldly possessions, including their home, households, and stored crops.
Lalu Toliya Wakhala and his family have been practicing Christians for the past 15 years. Since their conversion, Lalu and his family have faced opposition from radical Hindu nationalists demanding they give up Christianity. Despite the threats, Lalu and his family remained steadfast in their faith.
On November 28, Lalu and his family locked the door of their home in Jhirawaliya village and went to Sunday worship in Tichikiya, a neighboring village in the Jhabua District of Madhya Pradesh. After an hour, Lalu received a call letting him know his house was on fire. By the time is family returned to Jhirawaliya, their home, and everything inside, was burned to ash.
“We have lost everything,” Lalu told International Christian Concern (ICC). “There is nothing left, we became homeless, with no food to eat or clothing to wear. Even the cash we had saved and crops we had stored was completely burned.”
At almost the same time, a mob of 20 to 30 radical Hindu nationalists encircled the house where Sunday worship was taking place in Tichikiya. The mob threatened the pastor and congregation, demanding they recant their Christian faith.
According to local sources, 13 of the Christians who gathered for worship in Tichikiya later received a notice from district authorities asking they explain their conversions to Christianity. Many fear the local government is being influenced by radical Hindu nationalists claiming all conversions to Christianity in the district are illegal.
Across India attacks on Christians and their places of worship continue to be reported in greater number and severity. In Madhya Pradesh, the attacks on Christians dramatically increased earlier this year when the state government enacted a new anti-conversion law, considered by many to be the most stringent in India. Using the anti-conversion law as legal cover, radical Hindu nationalists across the state have redoubled their efforts to harass and persecute already vulnerable Christian communities.