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Christians Severely Attacked With Hockey Sticks and Gun in UP

Monday, July 23, 2018, 23:18 (IST)

Masked Hindu extremists have severely attacked Christians in Uttar Pradesh with hockey sticks and a gun that was fired on house-church grounds.

The incident took place last week during the worship at the church in Raikashipur in Pratapgarh District, where about 100 Christians had gathered, Pr Ram Kumar Gautam told Morning Star News.

A 12-year-old girl with partial eye sight was brutally beaten with sticks on her back, hands, and legs and elsewhere on her body.

A 10-year-old boy sustained a head injury that required seven stitches, said Gautam.

"They did not spare children as young as 7 years old and beat senior men and women alike," he added.

While few, including Gautam and his wife, were able to escape the attack, "others have not only sustained external injuries, besides internal injuries, but have also been mentally traumatized," he said.

The Hindu extremists approached in three Mahindra Scorpio SUVs, each loaded with eight to 10 men carrying hockey sticks and other sticks. One had a gun.

"Someone from among the attackers was carrying a gun, and he fired five shots on the ground towards my house," said Gautam.

The mob damaged the worship area, and they tore Bibles and destroyed the furniture, a sound system and a back-up battery. They also devastated 10 of the church members' motorbikes. Besides the vehicles, Gautam estimated total damages of at least 80,000 rupees.

First Information Report (FIR) has been filed against four unmasked assailants identified as Rajinder Singh, Rohit Singh, Shivam Pande and Vivek Tiwari. The FIR also mentions 20 unidentified assailants.

However, a counter complaint against the church members has been filed for rioting, unlawful assembly, house-trespass, and insulting others' religion.

Gautam said that a high police official and an administrative officer alleged that they were pressured to register the counter FIR against the Christians. The officials assured Christians of a fair investigation and that they would try and cancel the accusations.

But Christians feel grave insecurity.

"If police do not do anything [against the assailants), then how will we survive?" said Gautam.

"If they [Hindu extremists] can falsely blame us, produce a cooked-up story, levy all kinds of sections on us and the police cannot do anything except come to us and tell us that they know we are blameless and that they were forced to file a complaint against us, how can we be assured of any help in our case, if police themselves are helpless?," he added.