Imagine crowds of people shouting outside of your home, telling you to leave. Imagine the fear, the worry, the stress. It’s a horrible thought, but, it’s a reality that a group of Christian families faced at the end of last month. An estimated 2,000 to 3,000 people targeted 15 Christian families in a small village in India. The disturbances were filmed and shared on social media. In the videos, Hindu extremists shout slogans and destroy the houses of the Christians, making them homeless and vulnerable to the monsoon rains.
The incidents took place in a village called Singanpur in the Indian state Chhatisgarh, on 22 and 23 September 2020. The villagers summoned the believers and held meetings where the Christians were accused of taking up a foreign religion. After these meetings the villagers then attacked the homes of the believers, and also scattered and destroyed all the things in their houses.
The mob was exceptionally large, according to local Christians, between 2,000 and 3000 people. The police were called, however, they did not stop the mob. The crowd was shouting things like: ‘Since you have become Christians, our gods are angry with us! They don’t listen to our prayers anymore!’
One local Christian said, “If there had been no police, people would have died. Many villagers were drunk and carrying sticks.”
Around 75 Christians had to flee their homes. Many were severely beaten and had to receive medical treatment. The Christians have been unable to file reports with the police.
Most of the Christians have not returned home. A local Christian has said, “They stay in other villages, or in other homes nearby. These homes are broken too by the way, but they are safer. However, because they are damaged, they don’t provide much shelter to the heavy rain we’re experiencing these weeks. Fortunately, there hasn’t been more violence. But there’s still tension. The police are still in the village.”
The Christians were shaken after this sudden outburst of violence, but remain strong in the faith. One of the believers said:
“No, I’m not leaving Christ. I came to faith after God healed me… If I leave Christ, I will die. It’s only Jesus who gives healing. It’s better to die for Him. Only He is the truth. Yes, we are afraid, but only a little. God is with us.”
Another church leader quoted from Isaiah 41: “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
This tragic outburst of violence shows how tensions are brewing just under the surface across India. A rise in ultra nationalist Hinduism is targeting Christians and any foreign religious influences – being a Christian is seen as un-Indian.
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