India: Church vandalised and pastor and wife doused in petrol

Christians hold candles during a vigil to show solidarity with the nun who was raped during an armed assault on a convent school in New Delhi last year. Christians believe the Hindu nationalist government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is not doing enough to protect them after a spate of attacks.Reuters

A pastor and his wife have been doused in petrol during an attack on their church in India, Christian Solidarity Worldwide reports.

Two men posing as Christians in need of prayer turned up at Pastor Deenanath's Berseba Church in Karanji Village in the central Chattisgarh State and forced him to let them in. 

He was made to chant "jai sri ram", or "hail Lord Ram", before he and his wife were doused with petrol in an attempt to force them to convert to Hinduism. Lord Ram is a Hindu deity.

The church was also badly vandalised.

Bibles, furniture, the public address system, the pulpit and church offerings of fruits were among the damged items. Although local police have been informed, it is believed the two men belonged to a Hindu fundamentalist group from outside the village.

Christians in Chhattisgarh State, especially in Bastar district where Karanji Village is located, often face physical violence and social discrimination. According to the Evangelical Fellowship of India, Chhattisgarh ranked second among Indian states for recorded incidences of attacks against Christians in 2015.

Mervyn Thomas, chief executive of Christian Solidarity Worldwide, said: "CSW condemns this and all other incidences of targeted violence against religious minorities, which have outraged civil society in India. CSW joins with the people of India in calling for justice and for the fulfilment of the Prime Minister's promise to put a stop to the harassment of religious minorities in India.

"We are deeply concerned at the trend of increasing attacks on religious minorities in the country, and especially in Chhattisgarh State, which betray India's pluralistic heritage. The Indian government must follow through on its promises with concrete actions to stem these attacks."