Bajrang Dal pressure villagers to leave Christianity
For much of the year, Christians in the central India village of Taragaon have been enduring pressure to abandon their religion.
In April, elements of Bajrang Dal demolished the church in Taragaon, a small town in the farming- and forestry-dominated region of southern Chhattisgarh state.
Bajrang Dal is the militant youth wing of the Hindu nationalist Vishwa Hindu Parishad, or VHP. Bajrang Dal goals include preventing "fraudulent or forceful conversion" of Hindus to any other religion.
Their church destroyed, the Christians of Taragaon moved their worship meetings into the homes of believers. The Bajrang Dal followed them.
On September 22, Mitko Kashyap, 60, was confronted by her nephew for attending a house worship service. He hit her multiple times, she said, as she refused to deny her faith. Ultimately, he struck her on the head with a rock, causing injuries that required hospitalisation.
"Kashyap's daughter-in-law was also attacked by the same man, but she managed to escape," said a staff member for Open Doors International, a ministry that provides support to Christians who are pressured because of their faith.
Police initially declined to register a complaint against the attacker, calling the incident a family matter, according to Open Doors. They registered the complaint after hospital management summoned police to the hospital to see Kashyap's condition. No arrests have been made.
Early this month, members of Bajrang Dal have been parading Hindu idols by the houses of Christian believers. Using loudspeakers, they ordered the Christians to come out of their homes to worship the idol, according to Open Doors.
"They are threatening us that they will drag each one out of our homes, beat us and kill us if we did not come out of our homes ourselves," the ministry quoted a village resident as saying.
"In this atmosphere of fear and pressure, we do not know whom to turn to for help," the resident said. "The police are biased and do nothing to protect the Christians."