Christian families in India have been forced to flee their homes following a series of mob attacks against a Christian prayer house and threats that if they didn’t leave the village, they would be raped and murdered.
Christian Solidarity Worldwide, a United Kingdom-based human rights group that works in over 20 countries, is decrying the mistreatment of a small Christian community in the Dassmora village of the Azamgarh district in the Uttar Pradesh state.
According to the nonprofit, two Christian families from the village fled their homes on Saturday and left behind their livestock after a string of attacks in the days prior carried out by groups of suspected Hindu radicals in the village.
A local source told the NGO that Christians in the village first faced harassment last Thursday when a mob of about 35 villagers entered the prayer house — built in 2018 and said to be used by hundreds of Christians — and verbally abused those who were present at the time.
The next day, another mob of people is said to have broken into the prayer house, assaulted Pastor Vikas Gupta and ransacked the property.
According to CSW and also reported by LiCAS.news (a news outlet staffed entirely by lay-people across Asia that supports the mission of the Catholic Church) is the claim that the mob threatened to rape and murder those who gathered at the prayer house.
The mob also reportedly threatened to burn down the prayer house if the Christians didn’t leave the village. According to the reports, Gupta was dragged to a local temple shrine last Friday and ordered to bow before an idol.
Then on Saturday, another mob was said to have torn down the walls of the prayer house and destroyed the windows and doors. Also, the mob is said to have destroyed a motorcycle.
After Saturday’s attack the Christian community notified police, CSW reports.
In response, the police reportedly arrested men connected with the mob attack, according to a local source that spoke with CSW. However, dozens of people went to the police station to pressure authorities to release the arrested men. According to sources who spoke with LiCAS.news, the mob at the police station was led by the village head.
The pressure resulted in the men being released.
“The police buckled under pressure and released those it had arrested earlier,” Gupta, 21, was quoted as telling the news outlet.
Gupta said that the communal anger against him and other Christians grew after the men were released from prison, which resulted in another and more severe attack.
“When we saw no other option, we fled from the village, leaving behind our houses, household and livestock,” they explained. “We have now become like refugees.”