Pastor, Pregnant Wife Beaten, Escaped Setting Fire in Chhattisgarh

Published 19 April 2016  |  
Scene from the church attacked on the outskirts of Raipur city, Chhattisgarh on Sunday, March 6, 2016.

A pastor and his pregnant wife were assaulted badly and they just managed to escape when assailants tried to set them fire with petrol even as pastor's children were thrashed, scriptures and furniture were burned a church at Tokapal village, Bastar region of Chhattisgarh.

This attack came after another church was attacked in March when a mob consisting of Hindu fringe group vandalized a home church and manhandled the pastor and worshippers at Kachna near the state capital Raipur.

Mr. Arun Pannalal, president of Chhattisgarh Christian Association (CCA) said pastor Deenanath and his wife somehow managed to escape after a mob beat them up and doused with petrol on Sunday.

Pannalal accused police of hushing up the assault. "Tokapal is a very small place where everybody knows everybody." He said police have registered a case against unidentified people and called it "an indication that police are trying to downplay the incident and protect the accused".

In the FIR filed in this case, it is mentioned that the attackers allegedly destroyed the electronic equipment at the church besides even thrashing the pastor's children and setting ablaze scriptures and furniture.

According to Chhattisgarh Christian Association (CCA) which has been recording attacks on Christians in the state, there were 93 attacks on Christians in Chhattisgarh in 2014 and 2015.

In February, a group of Bajrang Dal activists demolished a prayer hall and thrashed the pastor of the church.

Last month, a mob attacked the church at Kachna, and thrashed worshippers indiscriminately, shouted slogans like 'Jai Sri Ram' riding motorcycles and accused the church of carrying out conversions. But police had maintained the attack was a result of a dispute over construction of the church.

Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) had been campaigning in the Bastar region to ban non-Hindu missionaries to do any work in the region, and as a result in 2014, the 50 gram sabhas in Bastar region called under the provisions of the Chhattisgarh Panchayati Raj Act had adopted the resolution banning non-Hindu missionaries in Bastar. Christian organisations including CCA had decried the ban saying the Panchayat bodies cannot override the Constitution's Article 25 that guarantees the freedom of religion.

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