On Monday 2 July, 20 Christians were seriously injured in an assault on a prayer meeting in Raikashipur village, located in the Pratapgarh District of India’s Uttar Pradesh State. According to local reports, a mob of 35 Hindu radicals stormed the meeting and beat the group of over 150 Christians gathered for prayer. Following the assault, the village Pradhan (village president) filed multiple false criminal charges against six of the Christian victims.
Ram Kumar Gautam, a 42-year-old Christian, has led prayer meetings in Raikashipur village every Monday for the last five years. On average, 300 people participate in these services in a makeshift shed.
On 2 July, around 2pm, the mob arrived at the prayer meeting in several vehicles. The radicals stormed inside the meeting hall and beat the Christians gathered there with sticks. The attackers also fired a gun into the air five times to frighten the Christians. When the attack ended, 20 Christians were seriously injured, 10 motorcycles were damaged, and the furniture inside the makeshift shed, including musical instruments and chairs, was destroyed.
The radicals lodged false criminal charges against six Christians, including Gautam. These charges have reportedly been lodged by the village Pradhan, under Indian Penal Code (IPC) sections 147, 148, 149, 307, 452, 323, 504, 506, 392, and 295A.
“We peacefully conduct prayers every Monday and people voluntarily attend these prayers,” Gautam explained. “We don’t even talk about conversions, but I am accused of converting people. People come to our prayer and get healing. That’s why people choose to regularly attend the prayers.”
Rev Sanjay Robinson, President of Massih Seva Dhal, said, “There is no Freedom of Religion Act, popularly known as an anti-conversion law, in place in Uttar Pradesh, yet pastors and Christian workers are being frequently harassed by Hindu hard-line groups with accusations of forced conversion. The gruesome incident on Christian worshipers in Raikashipur village reflects the pattern and plot of the Hindu hard-line groups.”
Source: International Christian Concern