A mob of Hindu villagers led by the head of the village disrupted a gathering of Christians, who were gathered in a private home to worship on 2 July 2017 in the southern Indian state of Telangana.
The mob burnt a Bible, Christian literature, musical instruments and holy sacraments and forcefully applied ‘Bottu’ (a religious mark) on the forehead of the Christian women present.
About 30 Christians had gathered to worship in the house of Ganga Ram, a local Christian, who has opened his home for running the Believers Church of India for the past 10 years in village Ramadugu, Dharpalle Mandal in district Nizamabad.
Immediately after the Sunday service began, a mob comprising of the local villagers, their village Sarpanch (village chief), members of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and people from the neighbouring villages, about 40 of them, entered Ganga Ram’s house and started to abuse Pastor MB Paul, 28, and threaten the worshippers.
Global Christian News spoke to Pastor M. B. Paul but because of language limitations, his words were translated by Pastor CH Karunakar, the Pastor of Believers Church of India, Kamareddy.
“The men at the instruction of the Sarpanch gathered all the literature
present at the worship place, snatched the Bible that the Pastor was carrying, the instruments used in worshipping and the holy sacraments. Pilling it all together, they poured kerosene oil on it and set it ablaze,” said Pastor C.H. Karunakar to Global Christian News.
Three videos have been shot, capturing the havoc caused by the Hindu mob outside the house of Ganga Ram. It seems from the video that non-state actors have a free reign to intimidate and threaten minorities. They are seen interrogating and demanding proof from the Christians, coercing them in every possible manner and instilling fear in them.
Pastor Paul’s wife was insulted and abused by the mob.
The men were pressurised to apply ‘Bottu’ on the forehead of their respective wives. Bottu is a Hindu sectarian mark. The tradition of applying a dot on the forehead is associated with sacrificial rites.
“There were altogether 9 women and their husbands were made to apply Bottu on their wife’s forehead as a mark of being an Indian,” said Karunakar.
Karunakar also told Global Christian News, “The local police are not responding properly to our case. We sat in the police station to speak to the in-charge for 6 hours on Monday only to hear from him that our future will not be safe and that the Hindu villagers will assault us if we did not submit to their demands.”
A team of about 25 Pastors from the surrounding worship places got together with Pastor Paul and reported the matter to the District Superintendent of Police (DSP) yesterday (5 July) after the local police did not take any action against the intimidators nor filed a First Information Report against them.
“We have shown the videos and the picture of the Bible being burnt to the DSP, but he has asked for the person who has shot the video to go and witness before the DSP.
“All the Christians who were present for the worship service on Sunday are deep down terrorised and have flatly refused to come before the District Superintendent of Police and present themselves as a witness, apart from Pastor Paul,” revealed Karunakar, who visited the DSP along with Pastor Paul.
The mob has threatened the Christians of dire consequences, if they stood as witnesses. “People are very scared of the RSS; Christians in the village are saying that they will be killed if they stood against the Hindu villagers and that this is their ancestral village, they have to continue to stay in the same village all their life,” added Karunakar.
“We have nobody to speak for us and it is evident that the whole system is supporting the Hindu extremists. Frustrated from the continuous opposition, some of the Christians in the village have told us that they will have no option but to abandon their faith.”
Pastor M. B. Paul, originally a resident of Warangal, moved to Dharpally 10 years ago and started a Church at the house of Ganga Ram. Paul has a 7-year-old son.