A pastor and his pregnant wife were assaulted by two Hindu extremists on Sunday 17 April, in yet another attack on Christians in India.
According to reports, the incident happened at the church which Pastor Dinbanhu Sameli, aged 30, and his wife, Meena, aged 26, lead, in a remote village located in Bastar district, Chhattisgarh state, central India. The church building was subsequently burnt down.
The two Hindu men first approached Pastor Sameli outside his home, next to the church building, in the village of Karanji, at around 7.00pm, asking for prayer.
It is claimed they said they were from a nearby Methodist church. The pair then turned on the couple, brandishing a sword at the pastor’s neck and demanding they both shout the phrase, ‘Jai shri Ram’, meaning ‘Victory to the god Ram’. The attackers taunted the couple, asking, ‘Where is your Jesus?’ Pastor Sameli is said to have replied, ‘We believe that he is with us’.
The Christians also refused the demands to praise Ram and stamp on a Bible, prompting the extremists to set the church building on fire. Severe damage was caused to the building and its contents, including Bibles, furniture and sound equipment.
The couple said the church has been targeted by Hindu extremists before. According to reports from Barnabas Fund, during 2014 and 2015, 93 attacks on Christians throughout the state of Chhattisgarh were reported.
Hindu extremism has been a growing concern for Christians in Chhattisgarh state, where professing believers make up about 2 per cent of the population.