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India: 40 Christians on pilgrimage attacked by suspected Hindu radicals

“Initially, according to the deputy, the Catholics did not want to file a police complaint and it took six hours to convince them to do so.” They were likely reluctant to do so because all too often, police and other authorities faced with cases of the persecution of Christians side with the persecutors, not with the victims. This official dereliction of duty exacerbates the persecution of Christians the world over, and leaves Christian communities bereft and at the mercy of those who persecute them. Please pray that the Christians in India would by the mercy of Almighty God be strengthened to endure this, and that the hearts of these Hindu radicals who are harassing and attacking Christians would be transformed, like that of Saint Paul, who also once persecuted the Church.

“40 Christians on pilgrimage attacked by suspected Hindu radicals in India,” by Samuel Smith, Christian Post, August 25, 2019:

Six suspects affiliated with a radical Hindu mob have been arrested on charges of attempted murder following an attack on Catholics walking a 280-mile pilgrimage.

The group of 40 Catholics were walking to a sanctuary in the Tamil Nadu state of India — from Karnataka to the Marian shrine in Velankanni — on a pilgrimage that has been a tradition for decades, when they were attacked earlier this month.

The assailants, who are in custody, are accused of blocking a road the Catholics were walking along and then attacking them both verbally and physically. Along with facing charges of attempted murder, they also face charges of “rioting, hurting religious sentiments and acting to destroy religious peace,” the Union of Catholic Asia News reports.

An inspector at the Natrampalli police station in the Vellore district told UCA News that the perpetrators blocked a public road where they carried out their assault on the pilgrims. During the attack, a religious statue the pilgrims were carting during the trip was destroyed.

A local source told UCA News that no one was seriously injured in the attack and the six suspects are believed to be affiliated with the radical Hindu Munnani group.

Sajan K. George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians, told the Vatican news outlet Asia News that the pilgrims were carrying the statue of Our Lady of Health.

“They were abused by six members of the extremist faction belonging to Hindi Munnani,” George was quoted as saying. “The attackers claimed that the transport of Christian statues is not allowed in the residential area.”

A deputy police superintendent told Asia News that the attack on the pilgrims could have led to much more severe consequences if the security agents had not intervened. Initially, according to the deputy, the Catholics did not want to file a police complaint and it took six hours to convince them to do so….

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom has designated India as a “Tier 2” country of concern when it comes to religious freedom violations.

”In 2018, religious freedom conditions in India continued a downward trend,” USCIRF’s annual report reads. “[India’s] history of religious freedom has come under attack in recent years with the growth of exclusionary extremist narratives — including, at times, the government’s allowance and encouragement of mob violence against religious minorities — that have facilitated an egregious and ongoing campaign of violence, intimidation, and harassment against non-Hindu and lower-caste Hindu minorities.”…

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