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ICC Note: Hindu radicals attacked a church in India’s Uttar Pradesh state last week as the church attempted to hold a baptism service. The radicals accused the church’s pastor of engaging in forced conversions before they beat him and two other church members. Attacks on Christians and their places of worship across India are on the rise. Much of the violence is perpetrated by radical Hindu nationalists that enjoy near impunity for their crimes against Christians.     

04/02/2018 India (World Watch Monitor) – Around 20 Hindu extremists in saffron-colored clothes barged inside a church in eastern India’s Uttar Pradesh state yesterday (28 March), violently assaulting the pastor and two church members.

Shouting in extremely offensive language, they entered the Evangelical Churches of India (ECI) building in the Fatehpur district of the city, and bolted it from the inside.

The church had gathered for a monthly baptism and fasting-prayer service, as Pastor Jose Prakash from Uttar Pradesh Missions explained to World Watch Monitor: “We don’t have a baptism tank at Fatehpur central. We only assemble in the community hall of the Missions’ Hospital regularly.”

Like every month, Pastor Jose Prakash sent invitations for the prayer and fasting to be conducted at Fatehpur Central prayer hall. “At least 550 people accepted the invitation and joined in worship and the Bible-study sessions that followed,” he said.

At about 3pm the Christians left the community hall in the Missions’ hospital building, after making an announcement that they would meet at the ECI church on Chuna Galli Street for the baptisms. “It was just a ten-minute walk,” he said.

He added that the Christians did not walk in a group but travelled separately.

“Just five minutes in, we were making some arrangements [for the baptisms],” he said, “and all of a sudden the 20 people in saffron clothes [associated with Hindu nationalists] appeared with wooden sticks.

“I went to talk [to them], and find what they are up to, but they held me by my collar and alleged: ‘You are carrying out conversions here!’ I tried to calm them down and make them understand that I only baptize those who come forward willingly, and there is no force.

“But they were not convinced. They started punching me, and rushed inside the kitchen in the church building and picked some knives. I did not want them to cause harm to anyone, so I quietly took the beatings.”

A young member at the church, 25-year-old Dinesh Kumar, tried to intervene, the pastor explained.

“Dinesh was badly beaten,” he said. “He received injuries to his head and eye, and a cut in his left ear.”

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