India: Priest and three church officials hospitalised after mob attack

A priest and three lay church officials have been hospitalised following an attack by a mob of 35 men outside a police station in Tamil Nadu, India.

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

Father Jose Kannumkuzhy remains in a critical condition after the attack, according to UCA news. He is the procurator of the Ramanathapauram Syro-Malabar diocese.

The men were attacked by 35 men as they waited to see police about a recent arrest of a priest and two others from a care centre run by a church.

The men fled from the attackers, but the mob followed them, according to diocesan spokesperson Father Johnson Veeppattuparambil.

"Father Kannumkuzhy fell down on the road and the mob kicked him, stamped him on the stomach and wanted to kill him by hitting him with a boulder," he said.

The police did not intervene with the situation, nor did they send an ambulance, according to Veeppattuparambil.

"To add fuel to the fire, the police made the bleeding victims stand before the media and allowed them to take photographs as if they were culprits," he added.

This incident is further evidence that there "is no safety for religious minorities" in India, he said.

Bishop Paul Alappatt of Ramanathapuram said the attack must have been planned, because it would not otherwise have been possible "for so many people to gather at such speed."

Christian persecution is prevalent in India; in 2015 more than 350 Christians were physically attacked and at least nine were killed for their faith in the country, according to Open Doors.

"Attacks mainly come from Hindu extremists, although extremist Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists and Maoists have all targeted Christians," the persecution charity said.

The Hindu nationalist ideology espoused by the ruling BJP party and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a right-wing combination of social movement and paramilitary group, has led to hostility toward Christians in some areas.