Rights group International Christian Concern (ICC) decried what it described as a “brutal attack” on a Christian community in India’s Chhattisgarh state on Saturday, November 6.
The group reported that the attack perpetrated by a mob of radical Hindu nationalists left nine Christians seriously injured, including three who are currently hospitalized in critical condition.
“We are very concerned by the attack on the Christian community of Metapal,” said William Stark, ICC’s regional manager for South Asia, in a statement on November 8.
He called on Indian authorities to stop “violent attempts to make communities ‘Christian-free’ … if religious freedom is to mean anything in India.”
“Unfortunately, this attack is merely a symptom of a larger problem in India,” Start said, adding that “religious intolerance and religiously motivated violence have become so normalized in India that we are hearing reports of multiple incidents every week.”
“Strict action must be taken against the perpetrators of this attack and stern statements must be made by India’s leaders to dispel the notion that a community could or should be cleansed of a particular religious community,” he said.
A mob of 50 radical Hindu nationalists attacked 14 Christian homes in Metapal village in the Dantewada district in Chhattisgarh on Saturday.
ICC said it received reports that the mob went from house to house, attacking Christians to make Metapal a “Christian-free” village.
Wielding fists, wooden clubs, and other objects, the mob beat the Christians, including women and children.
Police have noted charges against 15 perpetrators, but no arrests have been made to date.
“There has been intense opposition in the village against people practicing Christianity,” ICC quoted Susheel Kumar, a local Christian pastor who escaped the attack.
“These Christians have been threatened a number of times in the past,” he said.
Another ICC source claimed that the attack was “not an isolated incident,” adding that “Christians across the state are facing intense pressure from the religious militant groups.”
“Christians are not free to exercise their faith on par with Hindus. We want the government to treat us fairly and without bias,” said the villager.
Across India, attacks on Christians and their places of worship have been reported in greater number and severity.
A report by the United Christian Forum documented over 300 attacks on Christians taking place in just the first nine months of 2021.
ICC said that without significant intervention by government authorities, it is likely that 2021 will be the worst year on record for Christian persecution in India.