(January 17, 2006) The Washington-DC based human rights group, International Christian Concern (ICC) www.www.persecution.org has just become informed that six Christians in Rajasthan state, India, were attacked and injured by local Hindu residents angry over conversions on December 19.
A group of about 20 local residents launched an attack on us while we were getting ready to go for carol singing, Pastor Rajender David of the Full Gospel Church of God (FGCG) told ICC.
The FGCG is a Pentecostal church situated near Murdang Cinema Hall in Rajasthans Ajmer city.
Although we had been facing opposition for a long time, it became worst on December 19, when a local man slapped a church youth for urinating in a nearby drain at 11:30 pm, and later a mob attacked several other Christians and ransacked the church building, David said.
The Christian youth, who was slapped, bled profusely from his mouth. Davids brother and church secretary Michael Bell received head injuries as they were hit with hockey sticks. Bell s wife Swati was hit on the chest, and a church member, Narendra Damor, suffered a fracture of the hand. David also sustained minor injuries.
Eye witness accounts allege that the attackers tried to burn down the church building, but could not succeed.
However, the mob did not stop there; they went to the extent of locking us up inside the church building for about one and a half hours. We were released at 2:30 am after police came to rescue us, David said.
By the time police came, most of the attackers had fled from the scene. The others were taken to the police station, where they alleged that David and his church members were forcibly converting Hindus to Christianity.
While David and other victims denied the allegation of conversion made by the perpetrators, they refused to lodge a complaint against them. They told the police that they had forgiven their attackers and that they did not want them to be punished or prosecuted.
We did not want the attackers to be punished for their misdeeds, but we did not want them to repeat their mistake either. Therefore, we gave a simple letter to the District Collector informing him of the incident and requesting him to provide us police protection, David said.
Since the police have warned the local people against any further attacks, the situation seems under control now.
The religious atmosphere is tense in Rajasthan ever since the Hindu nationalist Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) won the state assembly election in December 2003. According to numerous media reports, the BJP government gave a free hand to Hindu fundamentalists soon after it came to power.
The state government lifted the ban on distribution of tridents (three pronged weapons) by Hindu fundamentalist organizations and declared that it would present an anti-conversion bill to the state assembly to ban forced conversions.
According to a government census (2001), there are only 72,660 Christians in Rajasthan, whose total population is more than 56 million.