Five men attacked a group of Christmas carolers in Tamil Nadu last week, including a 17-year-old boy, as part of a spate of pre-Christmas violence against Christians.
Pastor Joshua, who leads a local Christian community in Permuapalayam, Tamil Nadu, had gathered a group of the faithful to celebrate Advent in their home but they were assaulted by the militants as they began singing carols heralding Christ’s birth.
The day after the episode, the Christians went to the police department to file a complaint, but were rejected, according to reports from the Rome-based Fides news agency.
“Episodes of intolerance towards the Christian faith have been increasing in Tamil Nadu in recent years,” said Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), an NGO that monitors the situation of religious minorities in India.
It is “deeply worrying to see that religious holidays are distorted by those who want to plant seeds of contention and discord in India,” CSW stated. “Respecting the right to practice one’s religion is fundamental. We urge the authorities to take appropriate measures against these behaviors and to promote a culture of mutual respect.”
Several days ago, International Christian Concern (ICC) released a report that Christians in India had suffered over a half dozen acts of targeted persecution in the days leading up to Christmas, and many of India’s Christians have been obliged to adjust their Christmas celebrations for fear of reprisals from Hindu radicals.
“We have cancelled all our Christmas events in Banni Mardatti village, including carols, cottage meetings, and pre-Christmas events,” said Pastor Raja Bhovi of His Grace Church in India’s Karnataka State.
“There is a fear of being attacked by Hindu radicals,” he added, referring to recent events.
In early December, a mob of Hindu nationalists attacked and brutally beat members of Rev. Bhovi’s church community as they were clearing a plot of land for the building of a church. Afterward, they cut off the water supply for all 25 Christian families in the village, threatening to drive them out of their homes unless they renounce their faith in Christ.
“We were small in number at the police station compared to the mob of Hindu radicals,” the pastor said. “All of the 25 Christian families were present at the police station to lodge a complaint; however, the police told us that Christians cannot hold any meetings in the village and that pastors from outside the village cannot visit the Christian families, even during this festive season.”
According to some observers, anti-Christian persecution in India has now reached unprecedented levels, especially under the reigning prime minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which promotes Hindu nationalism.
“The level of intolerance we are witnessing in this country today is unprecedented,” said Nehemiah Christie, a local human rights activist. “Christians cannot celebrate the holidays for fear of violence.”
“The police are also complicit and do not take complaints seriously,” Christie noted. “In many cases, suffering remains unheard, violence remains unpunished and people continue to live in fear.”