03/03/2021 India (International Christian Concern) – Three Christians, including two pastors, were hospitalized following a brutal attack by Bajrang Dal activists in southern India. The extremists attacked after the Christians gathered to celebrate the birthday of a pastor’s son.
On March 1, a mob of 25 member of the Bajrang Dal attacked a gathering of Christians in Bilkondi village, located in India’s Karnataka state. The religious hardliners broke into the home of a Christian where the birthday celebration of Pastor Sadashiv Raju’s son was taking place.
According to the victims, the Bajrang Dal activists locked the door of the house from the inside to make sure no one could escape. The extremists then physically attacked the Christians.
“I tried to defend myself as six people constantly threw punches all over my body,” Pastor Raju told International Christian Concern (ICC). “They beat my wife as she tried to rescue me from the hands of the thugs. She was badly injured and was traumatized. She has shifted to her parents’ house to keep away from what has been going on after the incident.”
Pastor Raju has been leading an Indian Pentecostal Church in Bilkondi village for the past 12 years. He reports that the Bajrang Dal activists falsely accused him of engaging in illegal religious conversions as a justification for the March 1 attack.
“I have never forced anybody to convert or change their religion,” Pastor Raju told ICC. “If people come to me with needs, I pray for them. Sometimes they are healed and they want to attend church.”
As a result of the attack, six Christians, including a blind man, were injured. Three of these Christians required hospitalization and were taken to a private hospital in Gokak town. The Bajrang Dal activists also damaged musical instruments, electrical equipment, a refrigerator, and a sofa.
The Christians filed a formal complaint with local police, however, no action has reportedly been initiative by police officers. In fact, the mob that attacked the birthday party went on to attack a second Christian gathering and beat up the pastor of an Assemblies of God Church.
“This was a cruel attack on Christians,” a local Christian told ICC. “There is complete lawlessness and the attackers are emboldened by the pro-Hindu government in the state. There is no protection for Christians and we are frightened to even celebrate a birthday with friends.”
The Karnataka state government is currently led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Recently, BJP leaders announced their intention to enact an anti-conversion law in Karnataka. Local Christians fear the enactment of this controversial law will only further embolden religious fanatics and lead to more attacks on Christians.