On December 4, 25 Christian families in India’s Karnataka state were attacked by a mob of radical Hindu nationalists while preparing a plot of land to build a simple church. According to the church’s pastor, the Christian families have also had their home water supplies cut off for almost a week because they refused to recant their Christian faith.
The attack started on December 4 when members of His Grace Church in Bannimardatti village began clearing a plot of land in preparation to construct a simple church. Radicals, led by a local Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader named Bhairesh, attacked the Christians.
“First they targeted me and accused me of doing forcible conversions in the village,” Pastor Raja Bhovi, head pastor of His Grace Church, told International Christian Concern (ICC). “They abused me with foul language. Then they went to each of the Christian homes in the village and threatened them. They threatened that the Christians would lose their right to live in the village.”
When the matter was reported to local police, Pastor Bhovi was told that he was no longer allowed to enter Bannimardatti village. Police explained this was because of the “commotion on communal lines” his ministry was creating.
“The police even went to the extent of accusing me and my church members of being involved in unlawful activities,” Pastor Bhovi reported to ICC. “They told us that we could end up in jail if I persisted in leading prayers in the village.”
“This is the only Christian congregation in the entire region,” Pastor Bhovi continued. “The Hindu radicals want to shut it down.”
According to Pastor Bhovi, the radicals are continuing to harass the Christian families in Bannimardatti village. Water has been cut off to the Christian homes and the Christians are no longer allowed to work in the village.
“Their survival has become even more difficult,” Pastor Bhovi explained.
False accusations of force conversions and social boycotts are often used to harass India’s Christian community. Accusations of forced conversions are used to target Christian leaders and to justify physical assaults. Social boycotts, such as the one instituted against the Christian families of Bannimardatti village, are used to strangle Christian communities. Radicals often give Christians suffering under a social boycott the choice to either leave their village or recant their Christian faith.