500 Hindu extremists siege Church in India over alleged desecration of nationalist party flag

About 500 Hindu radicals raided a Protestant Church in Jobat City, Madhya Pradesh state in India, breaking down its entrance and assailed its churchgoers with stones. The attack by the extremists was brought about by reports that the flag of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is a conservative Hindu nationalist political party, was desecrated and torn when it was placed outside the Church.

(Reuters/Anindito Mukherjee/Files)A supporter of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) waves the party flag during celebrations after learning of initial poll results outside the party headquarters in New Delhi, on May 16, 2014.

Members of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a Hindu ultra-nationalist paramilitary group, Bajrang Dal, the youth wing Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), and BJP stormed the Church, throwing stones at the community, attacking the women, and breaking the Church lamps. 

According to Pastor Emmanuel Arial of the Church, the Church and its churchgoers had no part in the tearing and desecration of the BJP flag. There is a possibility that it was just simply torn by the wind.

He also indicated that the police around the area did not take action and only stood as bystanders as the attack by the extremists was ongoing. 

"All this happened before the eyes of the police officers, who stood by as silent spectators," the pastor said, as quoted by Christians in Pakistan.

A local police official from Alirajpur district police, however, indicated that as soon as they received reports of the attack, it was immediately registered and a police contingent was dispatched to the Church.

According to Sajan K. George, the President of the Global Council of Indian Christians, this attack proves that the intolerance, persecution, and violence against Christians in India are increasing. 

"Religious tolerance and freedom of worship in India are deteriorating and violence is increasing," he said.

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