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ICC Note:

A Christian pastor and his pregnant wife were almost burned alive by unidentified assailants over the weekend after their church was attacked and the Christian couple was beaten in India’s Chhattisgarh State. The village were the assault took place was Tokapal, which is located in Chhattisgarh’s Bastar District. In June 2014, over 50 villages in the Bastar District passed village ordinances that effectively made Christianity illegal and followed up these legal restrictions with physical and emotional violence. Since June 2014, the Bastar District has become a hotbed of Christian persecution. Today’s reports seem to indicate that Christian persecution in Bastar is still ongoing and perhaps escalating.   

4/19/2016 India (Times of India) – Unidentified assailants attacked a church over the weekend and tried to set a pastor and his pregnant wife afire after thrashing them in the remote village of Tokapal in Chhattisgarh’s Bastar region. This is the second church attack in Chhattisgarh since March when a mob vandalized a house church and manhandled worshippers at Kachna near Raipur.

Chhattisgarh Christian Association president Arun Pannalal said pastor Deenanath and his wife managed to escape after they were beaten up and doused with petrol on Sunday. The couple could not be reached and it was unclear how badly they were hurt.

Pannalal accused police of hushing up the assault. “Tokapal is a very small place where everybody knows everybody.” He said police have registered a case against unidentified people and called it “an indication that police are trying to downplay the incident and protect the accused.”

In the Kachna church attack, assailants on motorcycles had shouted slogans like `Jai Sri Ram’ and accused the church of carrying out conversions. But police had maintained the attack was a result of a dispute over construction of the church on encroached land. Later, nine people were arrested for the attack. In the fresh attack, Parpa police station in-charge Abdul Kadir Khan told TOI they have registered a case against unidentified attackers for “creating communal tension and trying to set ablaze the pastor”.

According to the FIR filed in the Tokapal case, the attackers allegedly destroyed the electronic equipment at the church besides thrashing the pastor’s children and setting ablaze scriptures and furniture. The FIR stated the assailants were well-armed and even tried to burn the pastor’s house.

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