Some 200 men armed with sticks and sticks stormed a church in northern India during the Sunday prayer service, police said, during the latest anti-Christian violence in the officially secular country.
At least five people were injured in the attack allegedly carried out by members of extremist Hindu self-defense groups in the state of Uttarakhand, according to a complaint from church authorities.
The frenzied crowd destroyed furniture, photographs and musical instruments while shouting slogans saluting the Hindu god Ram, they said.
“We have been carrying out raids since last night to catch the leader of the crowd. An investigation is underway to identify the remaining 150 to 200 people involved in the incident,” local police official Vivek told AFP. Kumar.
Priyo Sadhna Porter, pastor of the Roorkee City Church, said she could identify most of the attackers as they were from Bajrang Dal, a Hindu vigilante group, and other similar groups.
“We demand strict measures against them,” she told The Times of India newspaper.
Since the start of the year, similar attacks have been carried out against Christian churches, mainly in Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh, two Indian states with large populations of marginalized tribal communities and low caste.
Hindu groups accuse pastors and activists of converting tens of thousands of tribal people by offering money and other incentives, a charge denied by the Christian community.
Instead, Christians say that the ruling Bharatiya Janata party led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has failed to protect minorities.
Hindus make up nearly 80% of India’s 1.3 billion people, and critics say Modi’s two huge electoral victories since 2014 have bolstered his staunch supporters.
Last month, the bishops urged the Indian president to intervene to end anti-Christian violence across the country.
In its 2021 report, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom said that Hindu nationalist policies promoted by the Indian government resulted in systematic and flagrant violations of religious freedom.
The Indian government rejected his comments, calling them biased and unfounded.