Hindu Mob Attacks Church, Pastor in India, Alleging "Forcible Conversion"

Bhopal, INDIA – A mob of Hindu extremists has stormed into an independent church in Gauri Nadi village, near Jabalpur in Madhya Pradesh, vandalising the church, and assaulted church members, including a pastor. The violent mob also filed a police complaint against the church pastor for "forcibly" converting Hindus.

|PIC1|On 15th May, about 50 members of the Hindu fundamentalist outfit, the Dharma Jagran Sena (Religious Awakening Army) pelted stones at Anant Jeevan Marg Church after the Sunday worship was over. The mob also stormed into the church and destroyed furniture and equipment, shouting anti-Christian slogans and accusing the church of illegal conversions.

The attackers assaulted some church members including new believer, Dinanath Tiwari (35), whose wife was recently healed of cancer after other Christians prayed for her.

The mob also beat up Pastor Munnu Kujur, who repeatedly denied that his church was forcibly converting people. The Hindu extremists threatened to throw acid on Kujur's face and bomb his church if he did not stop converting Hindus to Christianity.

According to reports obtained by the Christian advocacy group, the All India Christian Council (AICC), the mob seized all the copies of the Bible kept in the church as "evidence" that the church was indulging in illegal conversions by distributing them. The mob dragged away Pastor Kujur in their vehicle to the nearby Barela police station to lodge a formal complaint against him.

|TOP|According to eyewitnesses, the police promptly arrested Kujur on charges of illegal conversion under the Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act and put him behind bars.

Soon, concerned Church members and Christian leaders reached the police station and lodged a counter-complaint against the attackers.

However, the Barela police station did not release Pastor Kujur until a lawyer from the Christian Legal Association of India (CLAI) called Sub-Inspector Vaishnav and asked for evidence against the accused. When the police officer said he was waiting for Christians to come and sign a bail bond, local Christians came in large numbers and signed the bond for Pastor Kujur.

According to local Christians, Hindu extremists on a regular basis attack churches, assault pastors and then lodge a complaint to get Christians arrested on charges of "illegal conversion." At least 15 such incidents have reportedly taken place since the beginning of the year in Jabalpur alone, a source close to the incident said.

He also said despite several assurances from Superintendent of Police (SP) Srinivas Rao and District Collector, Sanjay Dubey, the incidence of attacks and false charges against Christians continued to increase and have imperilled the lives of the Christian community in the state.

[Editor's Note: Jacob Chatterjee reported from New Delhi, India for this article]

Jacob Chatterjee
Christian Today Correspondent