A Catholic church was vandalized and a senior police officer injured in the attack in Chhattisgarh’s Narayanpur district
Indian Christian devotees hold candles and placards as they pose for a photograph during a demonstration against a suspected attack on a church in Amritsar on Dec 2, 2014. (Photo: AFP)
The chief of the provincial government in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh has promised action against those behind Monday’s attack and vandalism at a Catholic church.
“We discussed the serious threat Christians face in the state and the failure of the police and district officials to prevent targeted attacks against them,” Archbishop Thakur told UCA News on Jan. 3.
The chief minister assured him he would do everything possible to bring those responsible to justice, the prelate added.
"They broke the church doors and smashed windows to gain entry"
Sporadic violence has flared in Narayanpur and Kondagaon districts in the past few months in the tribal-dominated southern region of Bastar. The roots of it lie in non-Christian indigenous people insisting that their Christian counterparts give up their faith and return to traditional animist practices.
The Sacred Heart Church was attacked by a mob armed with wooden sticks and iron bars. They broke the church doors and smashed windows to gain entry and then destroyed the altar, crucifix, statues, and furniture, and strew around the consecrated hosts.
The mob also destroyed a Marian grotto and the presbytery besides a Christmas crib on the church premises.
Father Jomon Devasia, the parish priest, told UCA News that he and four other Catholic priests registered a complaint at the local police station. The police kept them there the entire night as a precautionary measure.
The priest said the total damage at the church was estimated to be more than 250,000 Indian rupees (US$ 3,016), which included about Rs 50,000 allegedly stolen by the mob.
Meanwhile, reports from villages in Narayanpur district said the mob destroyed several homes and house churches belonging to Protestant Christians on the same night.
"Renewed attacks were a political conspiracy"
“We are getting messages of more attacks that happened last night and many of our faithful have been forced to seek refuge in nearby forests,” said Pastor Mosses Logan, president of the Chhattisgarh State Christian Welfare Society.
He said efforts were on to locate those who fled and help them.
Archbishop Thakur blamed the police for the plight of Christians in the state saying they were not acting upon the complaints of Christian leaders.
He suspected the renewed attacks were a political conspiracy to divide the innocent indigenous people in the name of religion.
Chhattisgarh is ruled by the Congress Party, which swears by its secular ideals. Christians make up less than 2 percent of the close to 30 million people of the state, a majority of whom are Hindu or practice the tribal faith.
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