Three Indian Christians families have been brutally attacked by Hindu nationalists as they slept. According to reports, a group of 15 attackers entered the family homes in Kokkar Pal Panchayat, Sukma District, Chhattisgarh, at around 9pm on 20th May, before severely beating several family members.
Four people sustained severe head injuries and were transported to Sukma District Hospital for emergency medical treatment. The families fled into the jungle to evade the attackers and were threatened never return to the village again. A week prior to the attack, nationalists had pressured the families to abandon their faith and threatened them with violence if they failed to obey.
The families, comprising of fourteen people, including five children, have taken refuge in a church leader’s home in Chindgarh, Sukma District, and are terrified to return to their homes due to fear of further violence. Despite three separate reports being filed with the local police with regards to the incident, no arrest have yet been made, causing many to suspect that the police are reluctant to investigate.
Indian Christians have faced increased persecution over recent years with the rise of the Hindu nationalism - a political movement popularised by incumbent Prime Minister, Narendra Modi. Much of the violence against Christians has been perpetrated by an all-male paramilitary youth wing linked to Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) called Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). RSS has become known for its mob-style attacks on Christian communities, utilising iron-clad bamboo sticks as bludgeoning weapons.
Christian Solidarity Worldwide’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said: “It is deeply concerning that far-right Hindu nationalist groups feel emboldened to break into people’s homes, to threaten and harm them in the name of religion, and not fear the consequences. Such intolerance towards the freedom of others to choose and practice their religion will only result in the division of communities and propagate deeper fear and animosity, with minorities becoming more disenfranchised.
"We urge the authorities to investigate this matter urgently, ensuring that the families are free to live in a safe environment where they are able continue their livelihoods and practice the religion of their choice without further harassment, intimidation or violence.”