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[vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text=”” use_theme_fonts=”yes”][vc_custom_heading text=”By ICC’s India Correspondent” font_container=”tag:h6|text_align:left” use_theme_fonts=”yes” css=”.vc_custom_1602845546013{margin-bottom: 22px !important;}”][vc_single_image image=”99701″ img_size=”full” add_caption=”yes” alignment=”center”][vc_column_text]10/16/2020 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) – On September 22, members of the Sarya Adivasi Samaj (SAM) group summoned 15 Christian families to a meeting in Kakadabeda village, located in the Kondagoan district of India’s Chhattisgarh state. At this meeting, the Christians were told they had to recant their faith or be forced to leave their homes.

When the Christians refused, the religious fanatics attacked.

We have been tortured for almost three weeks,” Suraj Bhagel, a survivor of the September 22 attack, told International Christian Concern (ICC). Following the assault, SAM members demolished all the 15 Christian families’ homes. Fearing further violence, the Christians fled into the forest and took shelter in nearby villages.

We returned to our village only to see the devastation,” Bhagel continued. “Rubble, broken utensils, scattered clothes, and broken cycles and motorbikes were all around us. Our situation is very pathetic. We are living in broken houses that are just roofless walls. We are also unheard and unattended by the authorities.

According to Bhagel, the September 22 attack is the third attack on Kakadabeda’s Christian community in the last eight years. Historically, these attacks have been limited to physical assaults. However, the most recent episode has left Kakadabeda’s Christians homeless and stunned.

My mind is not working properly,” Bhagel told ICC. “We often don’t have food to eat and cannot stay in our homes whenever there is rain. There has been no help from the police or the district administration. That has added to our fear of further attacks by religious fanatics.

According to Bhagel, the September 22 attack in Kakadabeda was only the first of several similar incidents in Chhattisgarh.

We are troubled by how things are unfolding,” Bhagel said. “Just two weeks after we were attacked, two Christians in Tiliyabeda village, only five kilometers away, were brutally attacked. Both of them were seriously injured and are in critical condition in the government hospital.

Following the incident in Tiliyabeda, the local district administration issued an order banning all village meetings. The order prohibiting village meetings was issued on October 12 in direct response to the attacks on local Christians.

This is a terrible and frightening experience,” Bhagel continued. “However, I want to thank God for His protection. Although this is a painful situation, I am encouraged in my spirit and will press on witnessing His name.

Across India, attacks on Christians and their worship places continue to escalate in both number and severity. According to a report released by the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) India, at least 328 incidents of targeted violence against Christians were recorded in 2019. This number represents a significant increase in violence when compared to previous years. However, the 328 incidents recorded in ADF’s report only represent a portion of the violence that is being experienced by India’s Christian community. Most incidents go unreported due to fear of reprisal or lack of confidence in India’s justice system.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1602845648838{margin-bottom: 0px !important;}”]

For interviews, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: [email protected]