Three Christians attacked in India for distributing Christian literature

A protester holds a placard during a rally by hundreds of Christians against attacks on churches nationwide.Reuters

Three Christians have been attacked by a mob who believed they were trying to convert Hindus, according to reports coming out of India.  

Pastor Prashant Bhatnagar, aged 45, and two others from his church were distributing Christian literature in Khargar and Taloja in the city of Navi Mumbai in Maharashtra, India when they were verbally and physically abused.

One of those attacked has been admitted to hospital, The Times of India reports, while Pastor Bhatnagar was taken in a car to the site of a nearby prison, threatened with a revolver and told he would be set on fire if he did not stop giving out the Christian pamphlets.

Several unidentified men have been booked by police for rioting and for deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings.

Abraham Mathai, former vice-chairman of Maharashtra Minorities Commission, told The Times of India: "This is a grave criminal act to assault a peaceful group so badly and to threaten them with a gun. The police must book and arrest all the culprits in this case."

The three Christians were calling people to church for Sunday prayer, Two Circles reported, which listed the charges as including "outraging religious feelings", "kidnapping or abducting", "outraging modesty of women" and "causing injury by weapon".

The other two were named as Sachin Shenge and his wife Manisha.

According to this report, the pastor, a child psychologist, was also urinated on.

Writing about the attack, the Word of God website states: "Three Christians, including a pastor and two church members, were assaulted by a group of unidentified men while distributing Christian literature in Kharghar last Friday. According to reports, the Christians were severely beaten when the assailants objected to their distribution of literature. Attacks on Christians and their places of worship have skyrocketed since 2014, when the Hindu nationalists BJP took power in the federal government. Many claim that the ruling party's Hindu nationalist platform and the government's inability or unwillingness to confront religious intolerance are major contributing factors to the rise in attacks on Christians."