A group of Christian, including women, were physically assaulted by members of Hindutva organisations to the point where a pastor passed out and needed to be taken to the hospital. Hindutva is a religious nationalist philosophy that aspires to a Hindu nation.
Mahesh Mahananda and several others, including women, were attacked on January 21 at approximately 5:30 p.m. while they were returning from a lunch gathering at Shiv Prasad Mehto’s residence in Vasudevpur village, Kunkuri in Jashpur district of Chhattisgarh, which falls within the jurisdiction of the Duldula police station.
Speaking to The Wire, a member of the Christian group only known as Kishore claimed that they were ambushed by individuals brandishing sticks as they left Mehto's house.
Kishore made the startling observation that these were the same people who had been actively taking part in protests outside the Ram temple.
“As we left Shiv’s house, they stopped us with sticks in hand. They were the same people who had been participating in Ram temple rallies regularly,” he said.
The attackers reportedly subjected the group to physical violence and harassed women who attempted to intervene.
Pastor Mahananda was rendered unconscious by the attack, so his family rushed him to a nearby Samudayik Swasthya Kendra. For more medical care, he was then directed to Holy Cross Hospital in Kunkuri.
Mehto is the main complaint in the First Information Report that the Christians submitted. A counter-FIR was also filed by the Hindutva organisation against the Christians, with Naresh Kumar Yadav as the main complainant. While returning from a religious ceremony, the Hindutva group claimed that the Christians assaulted them and threw stones at them; the Christians refute this claim.
“The police registered the complaints of the Hindutva groups first against the Christians and the Christian complaint later,” Sudhir Tirkey, a pastor and senior leader in the area told Christian Today.
The Christians were booked under section 294 (obscene acts or words in public), 506 (Punishment for criminal intimidation) and 323 (voluntarily causing hurt). The police booked the attackers under similar sections, said a media house.
According to The Wire, there have been at least five more instances when Hindutva organisations have attacked pastors in the Jashpur region alone, proving that this was not a unique event.
The Chhattisgarh Christian Forum documented another event in Kundra village on January 21 where people broke into the home of a local pastor, cursed at him, and put saffron flags in the ground, pointing to the situation getting worse. If the pastor didn't convert to Hinduism, he would face severe penalties.
According to the data from the United Christian Forum (UCF), Chhattisgarh is among the states where the Christian community faces the greatest resistance and persecution. In 2023, as per UCF data while Uttar Pradesh led the tally with 155 incidents against Christians, Chhattisgarh was close behind with 84. As per UCF statistics, Chhattisgarh trailed closely behind Uttar Pradesh with 84 attacks against Christians in 2023, while the former topped the list with 155.