India: Christian villagers living in fear after Hindu nationalists burn down village church

It was just a simple structure made of bamboo and palm thatches, but it was a place of worship for the village's population of Indian Christians.

Despite action by the police and the fire department as well as members of the church, in Tadur, Telengana state, the fire destroyed everything inside the structure. These included the church's musical instruments, carpets and prized literature.

Attacks against the Christian minority in India have escalated over the past few months as the current Indian government appears sympathetic to Hindu fundamentalism. The ICC said that attacks range from actual physical attacks against Christians, to torching properties that are owned by Indians who are known to be Christians, and to allegations of forced conversions of the local population.

"Christians here are living as second class citizens," Telangana Christian Joint Action Committee State Chairman, Rev. Ronald John, said to ICC.

Aside from the attacks, Christians in India have another reason to worry – legislation meant to encourage "reconversions" to the Hindu faith of Christian Indians.

According to Asia News, Vishwa Hindu Parishad President Praveen Togadia called on the Indian government on a rally last Sunday to pass on an anti-conversion law that would prevent non-Hindu religions including Christianity from converting the local population.

VHP is an ultra-nationalist Hindu group that has been responsible for past attacks against the minority in India, including Christian villages and communities.

"We do not want a situation in which Hindus, who are now 82 per cent of the population, become 22 per cent in our country," Asia News quoted Togadia saying during Sunday's rally.

Global Council of Indian Christians President Sajan George called the forced conversion accusations "baseless allegations, only intended to sow social disharmony and discord."