The southern Indian state of Telangana is no exception to the growing religious intolerance sweeping India!
Since January 18, 2018, at least 15 incidents of religiously motivated violence have already been reported in Telangana. The brutality of Hindu radical groups has led to the hospitalization, injury, and displacement of numerous Christians including Pastor Ramesh and Pastor Babu. Hindu radicals attacked Pastor Ramesh on February 20, 2018, forcing him and his family to flee.
Prior to the February attack, 30-year-old Pastor Ramesh visited his village’s revenue office several times to obtain permission to build a church, despite numerous threats from Hindu groups. After pastoring his local church for 12 years, Pastor Ramesh’s rented church space could not hold all of the church members. In August 2017, the church purchased land and was ready to build. They simply needed permission from local authorities, but they didn’t get it.
Instead, Pastor Ramesh told International Christian Concern (ICC), “They (Hindu radicals) dragged me out of the revenue office…Around seven people led by Mr. Narsihmulu forcibly took me to a deserted place nearby the revenue office and beat me blue and black. It looked [like] the attack was pre-planned as they used wooden sticks and iron wires to attack me and I sustained bruises all of over my body, especially on my back.”
The Hindu radicals wanted to ensure that the group of Christians could never build the church. After more than an hour of beatings, the radicals dragged Pastor Ramesh to the registration office and “transferred the land that was bought to construct the church to Mr. Narsihmulu, and he paid 50% less than the value of the land.”
After the attack, Pastor Ramesh said that “it was like a life and death situation for us as a family. My wife and kids are so scarred and depressed over the developments. My youngest daughter is three months old and the eldest is five years. For a moment I did not know what to do, so I fled from the village…literally hiding for life.”
Similarly, Pastor Ravi Babu narrowly escaped a Hindu radical attack on March 14, 2018. Pastor Ravi told ICC, “A mob of 15 Hindu radicals followed me, when I was returning from [a nearby] village, after visiting [a] few Christian families [in] that village. Sensing possible trouble by the mob, I took a different route to escape the mob’s attempt to attack me. Later, the same group went and assaulted [another Christian family].”
A Christian activist in Telangana spoke with ICC on the condition of anonymity. He said, “There has been sudden escalation of the attacks against Christians in the state of Telangana, and these attacks have led to grave concern for Christian minorities in the state. The government of Telangana should ensure the safety of all irrespective of any religious affiliation, and it is the fundamental right of every citizen of this nation of India.”
The exponential increase in attacks against Christians in Telangana is outrageous and is cause for grave concern. Most Christians live in utter fear for their lives as they have no protection from Hindu radicals and corrupt police. Pray that the government will recognize and uphold the constitutional right of religious freedom and begin protecting religious minorities. Otherwise, people like Pastor Ramesh and Pastor Babu will continue to suffer.