India: Hindu extremists attack, displace Christians in pre-Christmas riots

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by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent

(Worthy News) – Radicalized Hindu nationalists in India’s Chhattisgarh state carried out a series of violent riots earlier this month, attacking Christian communities in 20 villages during the run-up to Christmas, International Christian Concern (ICC) reports.

Enraged that fellow citizens had converted to Christianity, on December 18, Hindu extremists assaulted Christians in the Narayanpur and Kondagaon districts of Chhattisgarh state, ICC said. The rioters injured and hospitalized believers, drove others from their homes, vandalized churches, looted businesses, and destroyed houses, ICC said.

According to ICC, Christians were forced to flee into the jungle, while others turned to the police – who refused to help them. “Small kids and women with their families were sitting in open places in biting cold, with no food or water, warming their hands with their breath,” a witness told ICC.

Describing the scale of the violence, a church leader told ICC it was reminiscent of the devastating August 2008 riots when radical Hindu nationalists killed 39 Christians and destroyed 3,906 homes in Kandhamal, Odisha state. “[The December 18, 2022] large-scale violent attacks bring back traumatic memories of the Kandhamal anti-Christian riots,” the pastor said.

In a separate statement, ICC President Jeff King noted that the authorities refused to help the Christians during the December 18 attacks. “These incidents have shocked the entire Christian community in the state, and the sad thing is that the people in authority did not bother to help,” King said.
“Christian persecution has skyrocketed in India since Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) took power in 2014,” King added. “With the goal to set up India as a Hindu nation, they have passed laws and enforced policies targeting Christians. The attacks this week are the result of this overarching hostility toward followers of Christ. It has created an increasingly dangerous climate for Indian believers.”

India ranks 10th on the US Open Doors World Watch List 2022 of the top 50 countries where Christians are persecuted.

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