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India: Christians in shock after 200-strong mob attacks church in Telangana State

Many Hindus believe that conversion to Christianity is an attack on their culture and way of life, and an imminent threat to both.

For previous coverage of the persecution of Christians in India, see here.

“Christians in shock after 200-strong mob attacks church in Telangana State, India,” Open Doors, March 13, 2024:

At least 22 Christians in India injured after a 200-strong mob attacked a church are still in shock after their ordeal. Two children were among those injured in the mob violence in the southern state of Telangana. The violence occurred over a land dispute, in which attackers shouted, “Jai Shri Ram”, meaning ‘Hail Lord Ram’, – a chant which has become a hallmark of Hindu nationalists.

“The Christians have not recovered from their shock,” shares Nitish*, a local believer who witnessed the attack. “The injured victims are recovering while others are afraid of what is going to happen next.”

Attack over road dispute
The clash started when believers at the church were told that their building would be demolished for a road expansion. Tensions had arisen after a group of villagers demanded the road to be widened eight feet into the compound of the Methodist Church in the Janwada village area of Rangareddy district. The Christians protested, and that’s when things turned violent.

“Even children and women suffered injuries. It was so painful to see.”

“The argument became strong, and suddenly around 200 people barged into the church with hockey sticks, stones and wooden sticks,” shares Nitish. “When the believers tried to stop them, they beat them mercilessly and broke everything that was inside the church.

“Even children and women suffered injuries, and some men required 10 to 18 stitches to cover the injuries they sustained. It was so painful to see their situation.”

He adds, “The church believers are from poor backgrounds, and most of them are uneducated. They were not prepared or never expected such persecution.”

Christians singled out for persecution
“The attack on believers shows persecution,” says Priya Sharma*, a local Open Doors partner. “There are various other religious worship places along the road, and they are not demolished; why should a church be vandalised and demolished for road widening?”

“The attack on believers shows persecution.”

She adds: “The church has been situated for a few decades in that place. If the church protested against road widening, the authorities could have taken steps to address the issue amicably.”

Nitish believes that persecutors were looking for an opportunity to attack the community. He says, “I am sure this is a pre-planned attack, and they used the issue of road widening just as a reason. The local people were influenced by political parties and religious extremists.”…

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