Mob attacks Indian church, two critically injured

Christians attending a worship service in a village in India's Chhattisgarh State have been assaulted and beaten, according to International Christian Concern (ICC).

ICC says a mob of more than 300 suspected Hindu radicals attacked the Bastar for Christ Movement Church in Jaripara and left nine members of the congregation injured, including two who are in a critical condition in hospital.

ReutersA protester holds a placard during a rally in Mumbai by hundreds of Christians against attacks on churches nationwide.

The attack happened on Sunday when the mob disrupted the service. Women and children were among those attacked. The church itself was vandalised and the furniture set on fire.

Those critically injured were Raju Sodi and Sangetha Kartami, who received wounds to their heads and hands. After initial treatment they were transferred to the government hospital in Dantewada.

A local pastor told ICC: 'The attack on Jaripara's Christians is inhuman and highly condemnable. These attacks are popping up on the backdrop of the state elections that are nearing. The BJP, who is in power in the state, makes it all the more easy for the Hindu radicals to carry on the hate campaign against religious minorities for the political gains.'

According to ICC, local police were at first reluctant to file a 'First Information Report' on the case, the latest in an escalating series of attacks on Christians in India since the election to power of the Hindu nationalist BJP.

William Stark, ICC's regional manager, said: 'Attacks on Christians and their places of worship in India are becoming an almost daily occurrence. Hindu radicals across the country seem to have been given a wide berth by local authorities to pursue their hate campaigns against Christians and other minorities.

'This inability or unwillingness to protect and enforce the rights of Christians must come to an end. While Article 25 of India's constitution guarantees full religious freedom for all citizens, the lack of India's enforcement of this freedom leaves Article 25 as just words on paper. India's leaders must do more to confront the issue of growing religious violence. Until then, Christians across India will continue to feel like second-class citizens vulnerable to religiously motivated assault.'