March 07, 2016

India: Right-wing activists attack and vandalize Raipur church in in Chhattisgarh

The Times of India

Raipur church vandalised during Sunday service
Ishita Mishra | TNN | Mar 7, 2016

RAIPUIR: Claiming it to be a function for religious conversion, alleged right-wing activists attacked and vandalized a Church in Chhattisgarh during Sunday prayer, injuring five people including two women.

Situated in Kachana colony of the state capital, a group of youth stormed the prayer hall, raising "Jai Sriram" slogans, and began attacking the worshippers. An FIR has been lodged against unidentified persons under serious sections.

According to eye witnesses, around 15 people on 8-9 bikes arrived at the spot while the Sunday prayer was going-on in the church, a red-coloured small room situated at the end of the road which further had just barren fields.

Chanting the name of Lord Ram (Jai Shree Ram), the men entered inside the church, attacked women, ripped their clothes off and also thrashed infants. Furniture and fans were also vandalized by the miscreants who warned the people who were taking part in the prayer to become Hindu.

"They began alleging that people were being converted here. They fled before police could reach at the spot. However the cops could recover three of the bikes. They desecrated the Bible and some of the pictures that were hung on the wall," informed Chhattisgarh Christian Forum President Arun Pannalal.

While the people who were observing the prayer left the spot after police's interrogation, the locals of the area seemed irritated with rounds of questions put-up by cops and media.

"Humko kuch nahi pata. Hum ghar p nahi the," rued a woman who was living in the house neighbouring the church and left inside.

There were few pair of slippers which could be seen scattered outside the single roomed-church which the locals claimed didn't belonged to either Protestant or Catholic Christians. The view of the room from the broken window pane was enough to prove that the disturbing elements were in large numbers.

The locals however praised the role of police in the incident as the cops who reached at the spot immediately after attack asked the churchgoers to continue their prayers before interrogating them.

Claiming it to be an attack on their religion, Pannalal said that it was a matter of shame for the government that minorities were being constantly attacked in Chhattisgarh. The attacks are almost half of a dozen in numbers in past two months.

"This is the sixth attack on churchgoers in Chhattisgarh in the past six weeks. We are trying to get a first information report filed," Pannalal said.

Talking to city superintendent of police Neeraj Chandrakar informed that police is trying to get the addresses of the bike owners to trace them.

"An FIR has been lodged against unidentified men under section 147 (disturbing law and order), 452 (House-trespass after preparation for hurt, assault or wrongful restraint), 295 (injuring or defiling place of worship with intent to insult the religion of any class) and 323 (voluntarily causes hurt). Medical has been conducted of those who are hurt," added the cop.

Some policemen who were guarding the locality claimed that the matter is actually of land dispute. "The church was built in an encroached land," said a policeman who refused to be quoted.