Christians in the South fear for the future of their community

Published 16 August 2019  |  

Six attacks on Christians in Telangana State has raised concern over the safety and ability of believers to practice their faith. The attacks include disruption of worship services, vandalism, threats and beatings.

In late July, K. Sandeep, a 21-year-old Christian, was attacked by Hindu radicals for his involvement in conversion of an upper-caste Hindu, K. Narender.

Narender's brother told Sandeep that he would kill him for converting his brother. The next day, Sandeep and his mother, sister and brother were taken to the village court and beaten for influencing Narender into becoming a Christian. Following the attack, the village chief forced Sandeep to sign on a blank paper. In fear, Sandeep signed the blank paper not knowing what will it be used for.

Speaking to the International Christian Concern (ICC), Sandeep said, "We have been living in fear and terror for nearly two weeks now."

Sandeep was ready to face anything when he committed his life to God. But the recent attack has left him with extreme fear for his family as he does not want to draw them into painful experience.

In another incident in the same district of Telangana, Hindu radicals demolished a under-construction church building. According to pastor Suryam of Fellowship of Indigenous Gospel Churches, the demolition was carried out during the night deliberately to wipe out the evidence.

The day before the attack, Konda Naresh, who claims to be a leading member in BJP, threatened the believers at the construction site that he will demolish the structure.

"We have been running the worship service here for the last 16 years. We occasionally received threats, but this time they told us directly to our faces! There has been an increase in the aggressive nature of attacks. We attribute this to the BJP's victory in the recent elections," pastor Suryam explained.

Since the demolition, people attending the worship services on Sunday has significantly reduced. "I took the issue to the police station, but was denied justice at every office. I have nothing more to do except to go to God in prayer," said pastor Suryam.

In Mahabubabad district, a church was literally choked with trouble from all angles. The church pastor, Pastor Israel told ICC that they could not hold a service for the last four Sundays because radicals would disrupt the worship. "They threatened us by saying that if we continued to meet for worship, they would beat us," the pastor said.

Pastor Israel took permission from local authorities and constructed a church building in Seethanagaram village for temporary use. But because of the threats and harassment from Hindu radicals, the church members could not meet for Sunday worship services.

"I went to the local police station with a lawyer for help, yet the police ignored me and insisted that we should go to the higher court," pastor Israel explained. "It has been very hard dealing with this situation as every door of justice seems to be closed simply because we follow a different faith."

The Christian community of Telangana is shaken because of these and other reported incidents.

The ideology of radical nationalists to have an exclusively Hindu nation is pushing the nation's Christians into the fear for the future of the community.

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