A FAITH-BASED human rights organization has condemned recent attacks on Christian families allegedly perpetrated by a hard-line Hindu nationalist group in India.
Attackers reportedly broke into the houses of three Christian families in Kokkar Pal Panchayat, Sukma District, in the central-eastern state of Chhattisgarh, at about 9pm, May 20.
International rights group Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) reported that at least 15 assailants entered the homes while the people inside were asleep.
Four people suffered serious head injuries from the attacks and were taken to the Sukma District Hospital for treatment.
The Christian families were reportedly forced to flee into a nearby jungle after the attackers warned the residents not to return to the village.
Mervyn Thomas, chief executive of CSW, expressed “deep concern” on how hard-line Hindu nationalist groups “feel emboldened to break into people’s homes to threaten and harm them in the name of religion, and not fear the consequences.”
Thomas said religious intolerance “will only result in the division of communities and propagate deeper fear and animosity with minorities becoming more disenfranchised.”
He called on Indian authorities to immediately investigate the incident and “ensure that the families are free to live in a safe environment” to continue their livelihood.
Thomas said every family is entitled to practice the religion of their choice “without further harassment, intimidation, or violence.”
In a statement, CSW claimed that Hindu nationalists had threatened with violence and “pressured” Christian families to abandon their faith.
A church leader in Chindgarh, Sukma District, offered temporary sanctuary to the families comprising of 14 people, including five children.
CSW has criticized Indian local police for “lack of reliability and willingness to take action.” The group said complaints have been filed against the perpetrators “but no one has been arrested.”
The U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom, an independent body dedicated to protecting freedom of religion, has recently recommended India to be listed as a “country of particular concern.”
United Nations officials have recently raised concerns over what they describe as “the growing trend of violence towards religious minorities” in the country.
In a 2017 Pew Research Center analysis, India has ranked second in countries with “high levels of social hostilities related to religious norms” worldwide.
CSW, a worldwide human rights organization that operates in 20 countries across Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America, specializes in religious freedom and works on behalf of persecuted Christians.