Christian families living in India were forced to flee their village after a prayer house was ambushed by a mob. The group of attackers threatened to rape and murder the Christians if they did not leave the area immediately.
Christian Solidarity Worldwide, a human rights group based out of the U.K., reported that a mob of villagers entered a prayer house in the small Christian community in the Uttar Pradesh state. The mob forced two Christian families from Dassmora village to flee the area. The families left their homes and livestock behind, fearing for their lives.
A local source reported that 35 villagers entered a house of prayer on July 2 and verbally abused those who were present. Sunita Maurya and Akhilesh Kannaujia built the home in 2018. Approximately 500 people from surrounding villages used to visit the home for prayer.
The following day, another mob of Hindu radicals broke into the house, assaulted Pastor Vikas Gupta, and ransacked the property. According to CSW and a local news outlet, the radicals threatened to rape and murder those who gathered at the house for prayer.
Additionally, the mob allegedly threatened to burn down the prayer house if the Christians didn’t leave the village. On July 4, another mob reportedly tore down the walls of the prayer house and destroyed its windows. The Christian community reported the attacks to the police following Saturday’s ambush.
Although local police arrested men connected to the attack, dozens of people went to the station and pressured the authorities to release the men. The police complied, and the men were arrested.
“The police buckled under pressure and released those it had arrested earlier,” Pastor Gupta told a local news outlet. He added that the community’s anger against him and other Christians grew exponentially after the men were released from prison. The outrage led to another and more severe attack.
“When we saw no other option, we fled from the village, leaving behind our houses, household, and livestock,” the Christians explained. “We have now become like refugees.”
According to CSW, the Christian families initially took refuge at the police station before fleeing to another location. The repeated attacks against the Christian villagers is “deeply concerning,” CSW Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said.
“They have lost both their livelihood and their fundamental freedom to worship. We urge local police to properly investigate the matter and bring the perpetrators to justice,” Thomas said. “We call on the authorities to take corrective measures to ensure these families are able to resume their way of life and support the faith of other Christians in the surrounding villages.”