A mob of Hindu nationalists stormed a police station in India on Sunday, beating a pastor and two other Christians, in an assault captured on video that went viral on social media.
Members of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM), the youth wing of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), accused Pastor Harish Sahu of engaging in religious conversion and beat him with shoes inside Purani Basti police station in Raipur, along with Ankush Bariyekar, general secretary of Chhattisgarh Christian Forum, and a Christian layman named Prakash Masih.
On Monday, Chhattisgarh police arrested two BJYM members for participation in the assault on the Christians.
The viral video of the incident shows the pastor being beaten with shoes as police attempt to control the mob and force them out of the office.
“The unprovoked physical assault on a pastor and his congregation in the outskirts of Raipur in Chhattisgarh is to be condemned in the strongest manner possible,” Father Babu Joseph, the former spokesperson of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI), told Crux.
“What is worse, it is poor commentary on the state police force is that the marauding crowd had the audacity to trespass the police officer’s chamber to carry on with the assault,” the priest said.
Father Joseph said government’s failure to protect religious minorities in the country has a significant share in the responsibility for such attacks.
“That such mindless violence is occurring periodically goes to show that the administration is either complicit in the crime or just looking the other way,” the priest said. “In both cases it is culpable in so far as it is abdicating its constitutional responsibility of maintaining law and order and provide protection to the weaker sections of the society.”
“Is there a method in this madness?” he asked. “It seems there is. Anti-Christian violence takes a quantum leap in states administered by political parties other than BJP, and the hapless Christians are victimized.”
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), tied to the Hindu nationalist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), has ruled India since 2014.