India: Pastor and church members beaten after 50 Hindu nationalists storm prayer meeting

Christians in India have protested this year about the lack of protection for religious minorities.Reuters

A pastor and several church members were injured in an attack on a Christian prayer meeting in Kerala, southwest India by suspected Hindu nationalists earlier this month.

More than 50 people, who allegedly belong to the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) stormed into the meeting at the church in Attingal on June 14 shouting "Victory to Mother India", according to a report from the Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI).

Eight people were injured and the attackers also wrecked furniture and musical instruments. Those who were beaten received primary medical care but were not admitted to hospital.

The police arrived at the scene half an hour after the attack and later arrested five people. The Interior minister and political parties have condemned the attack.

Rev Vijayesh Lal, secretary of the religious liberty commission of the EFI, told Christian Today that although this was not a "major" incident, "the fact that something like this will keep on happening is a sign of ongoing violence against minorities".

With the exception of a few north-eastern states, Lal said that incidents of low-level violence against religious minorities were happening all over the country.

After the attack in Attingal, Christians in the area staged a peaceful protest, which was opposed by Hindu nationalists who chanted anti-Christian threats in a counter-demonstration, according to Fides news agency. Christians make up 40 per cent of the population in Kerala.

The EFI documented 600 attacks on Christians and Muslims between May 2014 and March this year – the majority of them were targeting Muslims.