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By ICC’s India Correspondent

05/03/2017 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) – Uttar Pradesh (UP), a state located in northeastern India, has witnessed a spike in attacks on religious minorities following an electoral victory for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in March. Since the election, the sudden spark in sectarian violence, particularly against Christians, has shocked and terrified minority populations in UP and across India.

According to sources close to International Christian Concern (ICC), there have been more than 10 instances of persecution carried out by Hindu radical groups against Christians in UP. All of these directly followed the inauguration of the new, BJP-selected Chief Minister of UP, Yogi Adityanath, on March 26.

I literally cried,” Pastor Mahesh Chand of the Life Worship Center in Agra explained. “A fabricated case was framed against me, and I was roughed up and beaten up by a mob of Hindu radicals in Shamshabad for visiting a Christian home on an invitation.

Pastor Mahesh was shocked when radicals brought forward a ‘witness’ against him, testifying about a forced conversion to Christianity. He, along with five other Christians, were targeted by RSS activists in Shamshabad on March 29, 2017.

The Christians were attending a birthday party when Pastor Mahesh received a message warning of impending violence in the neighborhood. The six decided to leave the house immediately only to be stalked by a mob that eventually attacked. After sufficiently beating the innocent men, the mob then dragged them to the police station to level charges of forced conversion against them.

All six were held in police custody until midnight when local Christian leaders intervened to have them released.

In another case in Shahjahanpur, also in UP, Hindu radicals interrupted a church service at a school, threatening and intimidating the pastor. Police later told Pastor Ramesh to cease all church activity on school property. In addition to this, Pastor Ramesh’s wife was attacked in their home. As a result, Hindu radicals broke her hand.

This attack is clearly [an] attack on the Christian work that I carry on here in Dubkia village,” Pastor Ramesh told ICC.

Tensions in UP have increased exponentially since the election season. In and around the appointment of Yogi Adityanath, Hindu radical groups began threatening violence against religious minorities, including Christians and Muslims.

Yogi Adityanath, before becoming Chief Minister, has a history of inciting violence against religious minorities and espousing hate-filled rhetoric among his radical followers. In 2002, he founded the Hindu Yuva Vahini group, a Hindu extremist and militant youth organization that has been involved in many instance of communal violence across UP.

If ever there was a time to pray for India, it is now. At this rate, Christians fear that they may be forced underground as growing BJP political power appears to be leading to more violence being perpetrated by India’s radical Hindu nationalists.