Five families in Chhattisgarh were harassed and beaten by a gang of Hindu extremists who forced them to worship idols. Some of the family were later evicted from their village for attending local church services.
The extremists, according to Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) sources, were outsiders who came into Janjgir District's Nawagarh village about 9 p.m. on March 2. They gathered a group of local goons and provided them with free alcohol before urging them to attack the five families.
The goons broke into the houses of the families about midnight and forced them to attend an emergency public gathering in the village.
When they arrived at the event, a mob accused the families of converting to Christianity and threatened to kill them. They attacked the family physically and abused the women verbally. They were compelled to worship idols or face eviction from the village.
Twenty-eight-year-old Chandra Kumar Sahu, one of the victims, filed a complaint with Nawagarh police station, claiming that they were Hindus who had not converted to Christianity.
"They have falsely accused my family of converting to Christianity. We are Hindus and we have not converted to Christianity. However, my family and I do not consider idols as gods and we do not want to worship idols. But we were forced to,” Sahu said in his complaint.
“We as a family often visit churches and we respect Jesus Christ. But the attackers told us that if we want to continue staying in the village, we should stop going to the church. It is our fundamental right to pray to whomever we want,” Sahu added.
The incident is yet to be investigated by the police.
CSW demands that the event be thoroughly investigated.
“The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which India is party, protects the right of Mr Sahu and his fellow villagers not only to worship wherever they choose, but also to express their faith in any manner they may choose without experiencing coercion,” said CSW Founder President Mervyn Thomas.
“CSW calls for a thorough investigation into this incident, and urges local police to ensure that the perpetrators are prosecuted, including those who came into the village from elsewhere to promote violence. Rising religious intolerance in India is of grave concern, and we urge states to raise this issue with the Indian government in bilateral and multilateral dialogues,” Thomas added.