Pastor Mathai Varghese, the 57-year-old pastor of Ebenezer Indian Pentecostal Church in Suratgarh, was abducted and beaten by a mob of Hindu radicals in India’s Rajasthan state. When police finally intervened, the pastor was arrested along with the assailants and was falsely accused of taking part in a communal clash and attempting to forcefully convert an old woman.
On the day of the attack, Pastor Varghese was invited to attend a house-warming party for Rukma Devi Nayak. While at the party, a mob of 100 radicals attacked the pastor and other Christians that had gathered for the party. After beating the pastor severely, the radicals forced Pastor Varghese into a vehicle and drove away.
Pastor Varghese feared that the radicals meant to kill him, but was fortunately saved when police intervened. Despite being the clear victim of an assault, the police arrested Pastor Varghese along with his assailants. Pastor Varghese was then forced to spend a night and the next day in jail before receiving proper medical attention
Following the attack, local newspapers reported the attack as a communal clash between Christians and Hindus which arose because the Hindus were attempting to stop Pastor Varghese from forcefully converting Nayak to Christianity. Unfortunately, a police officer gave a quote as a part of these stories making the Christians look like perpetrators and not victims.
Attacks on Christians and their places of worship have skyrocketed in recent years. Growing hostilities by radical groups and the lack of police efforts to stop these groups have been major contributors. In 2014, the Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI) recorded only 147 incidents of Christian persecution. In 2017, EFI recorded 351 incidents
Cross Removed from Church in India’s Jharkhand State
10/26/2018 India (International Christian Concern) – Members of the Sarna tribal community, an animist group in India, removed a cross from a church building in Jharkhand state before holding a purification ceremony to covert the building into a community hall. Local Christians claim this is a result of the influence of Hindu radicals on local tribals trying to divide the tribal and Christian communities.
Historically, Christian missions and organizations have led charity efforts into tribal communities across India. Providing healthcare, education, and social development, the historical relationship between India’s tribal communities and Christians grew strong
In an effort to isolate and marginalize Christians, Hindu radicals in Jharkhand have stoked the flames of Sarna nationalism. Due to this influence, many members of the Sarna tribal community has turned on Christians in Jharkhand.
Catholic Bishop Vincent Barwa of Simdega, told UCAN, that, “This is part of the hidden agenda of the BJP to divide tribal people as Christian and non-Christian ahead of elections.”
Bishop Barwa further explained that the takeover of the church serves as a warning for Christians in Jharkhand. The bishop fears that attacks on Christians in Jharkhand by Sarna people will continue to be an issue