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India persecution: Prayer house attacked, pastor forced to bow before Hindu idol

Two Christian families have been forced to flee their village after being attacked by a mob. 

The harassment began on 2nd July, when a mob of about 35 villagers entered a prayer house in the village and verbally abused those who were present. The next day, the same mob broke into the prayer house and ransacked it, assaulting the prayer house’s pastor, Vikas Gupta. The attackers threatened to rape and murder all those gathered. They also promised to burn the place down if the Christians did not leave the Dassmora village in Azamgarh District, Uttar Pradesh.  

Pastor Gupta was then dragged to the local temple shrine where he was forced to bow before an idol and promise not to seek police help. As a result, the victims have not yet lodged a First Information Report (FIR), which is required for police to open an investigation. 

On 4th July, the mob once again attacked the prayer house once, tearing down the walls, breaking windows and doors, and destroying the owner's motorcycle. Following this third attack, local Christians informed the Bardah police station about the incident.

The police subsequently arrested five men in connection with the attack, but other attackers again struck the prayer house in retaliation. Local authorities say the violent villagers caused about 2 Lakh Rupees (about £2,000) in property damage.

Following the arrests, a mob went down to the police station and demanded that the men be released. Shockingly, the police complied. 

In light of this development, the two Christian families living in the village then took refuge in the police station before relocating to an undisclosed location. According to CSW, on 5th July the police arrested five suspects after a FIR was filed against them.

CSW’s chief executive Mervyn Thomas said: “We are deeply concerned by the repeated attacks these families have had to endure. They have lost both their livelihood, and their fundamental freedom to worship.

"We urge local police to properly investigate the matter and bring the perpetrators to justice. We call on the authorities to take corrective measures to ensure these families are able to resume their way of life and support the faith of other Christians in the surrounding villages.” 

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