CHRISTIANS holding a prayer meeting were attacked by an angry mob of more than 100 Hindu radicals who stormed in and beat the worshippers, injuring several.

The attack took place in Santosh Nagar in Hubli city, located in India’s southern state of Karnataka, on November 1 when a group belonging to the Ceylon Pentecostal Mission were at a weekly gathering.

According to persecution watchdog International Christian Concern, the attack was witnessed by police, who stood by and watched.

Arjun S. Hattimatur sustained a serious head injury when the radicals hit him, leaving him with a deep cut which bled for hours before he could access medical care.

The 36-year-old told the ICC: “We were beaten up in the presence of the police. They were watching us like spectators.

Christians in India

The situation for Christians in India has worsened since the elections in 2017 (Image: NARINDER NANU/AFP/Getty Images)

“We were taken to the police station on the false charges that we were involved in the forcible conversions and the police filed an FIR (First Information Report) against us.”

The Christians subsequently filed counter First Information Reports against their attackers. ­­­­­­­­­­­­­

Mr Hattimatur claims the mob, who arrived at 7.45pm, targeted him because he was leading the prayer meeting in the absence of the local pastor.

He has been too afraid to leave his house since the brutal attack and said that other Christians in the area remain terrified.

Indian Christians

Indian Christians take part in a Good Friday procession in Amritsar in March 2018 (Image: NARINDER NANU/AFP/Getty Images)

He added: “This is the not the first time. We were attacked twice in the last few years, but then the police acted fairly and the rule of law was applied.

“In this case, nothing seems to be working for us as both the media and police took the side of the attackers.” ­­­­­­­­­­­­­

Just days after the attack, a pastor was set upon by 25 Hindu radicals on November 4 while leading Sunday worship in Lokapur in the Bagalkot district of Karnataka, about 120 kilometres from Santos Nagar.

Pastor Srikanth Durgappa was beaten up and dragged along the road for a kilometre to the local police station where he was further assaulted by officers, leaving him with a fractured chin bone.

Indian Christians

Christians make up about six per cent of the population in India (Image: NOAH SEELAM/AFP/Getty Images)

The radicals accused the pastor of bribing Hindus to convert to Christianity by offering them money and gifts.

Pastor Srikanth was detained until 7pm that evening and, upon his release, was warned by police not to conduct prayers in the village any more. ­­­­­­­­­­­­­

Christianity is India’s third most followed religion, after Hinduism and Islam, with six per cent of the population adhering to the faith.

According to a study produced by Aid to the Church in Need, a charity helping persecuted Christians around the world, worshippers have faced a rising wave of violence since the elections in March 2017. Many attacks are believed to be politically motivated.

Date published: 16/11/2018
Written by: Laura O’Callaghan
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