Christians in Hiding after Brutal Mob Attack in Central India
Several families are in hiding after tribal animists in Chhattisgarh state, India threatened to kill them for reporting a mob attack to police last week that sent 21 Christians to hospitals, sources said.
Armed with bamboo sticks, iron rods, bows and arrows and iron sickles, the large mob at 1 a.m. on Nov. 25 attacked a home and adjoining church hall in Chingrwaram village, Sukma District, where Christians had celebrated a child dedication the previous evening. Some 20-25 friends and family were sleeping in the home and another 25-30 in the church hall when the villagers, many of them drunk, attacked while accusing the Christians of converting people and celebrating with loud music.
“They beat up the children as well as the women who were cooking food outside,” said Laxman Mandavi, a 21-year-old survivor of the assault. “While the children were beaten up with hands and feet, the others were shot at with arrows and beaten up with iron rods.”
The assailants shot Mandavi’s father, the 50-year-old homeowner Madvi Muka, with arrows, leaving him wounded, and attacked Madkam Sanni with a sickle that left deep cuts between her fingers and fractured her hand, Mandavi said.
“It was complete mayhem, and people were running to save their lives,” told another victim, 24-year-old Laxshu Madkam. “I received two cuts on my back. My motorbike was broken. The attackers also broke 10 more motorbikes. They pulled the petrol pipes out of 20 more bikes and let the fuel flow.”
Mandavi said that four of the assailants entered a room where they found a young Christian woman and attempted to rape her.
“The attackers surrounded an unmarried sister and tore her clothes attempting to rape her,” he told. “When she started screaming loudly, they dragged her outside and beat her black and blue. She sustained severe internal injuries.”
Mandavi said the assailants destroyed all grain in the storehouse, damaged the house and belongings inside it and scattered the food that was being prepared for the guests’ breakfast.
“They also alleged that we were converting people and influencing them to turn them to our faith,” he said.
Mandavi said his father had been receiving threats from villagers for two months.
“They planned to attack us, and nearly two months ago had even threatened that they will beat us,” he said.
The assault continued until after dawn.
“The attack went for a long time,” Pastor Kosa said. “It seemed like it would not end.”
Assuming it was safe to return, some guests who had fled returned to the church hall at about 6 a.m., only to walk into an ambush, Mandavi said.
“A few of us went back to see how things were, and others accompanied them,” he said. “They did not know that the attackers were waiting for whoever came back. All who went back to see the situation were roughed up very badly.”
A Christian who had not been at the prior evening’s dedication celebration, Madvi Madka, was among those who visited the church hall the next morning.
“Madvi Madka was beaten up so severely that his ribs have been broken, and he is unable to breathe properly,” Mandavi said. “His hand is broken, and he is hurt in the chest as well. He was taken to the hospital in a critical condition.”
Pastor Kosa said many sustained internal injuries and bruises, including at least 10 Christians with head injuries. Madi Chuki suffered a hip injury, and Muchaki Ungi injuries to his ribs and hands, he said.
“Nobody was spared,” Pastor Kosa said. “Christians were beaten ruthlessly to the extent that blood started to ooze out of the bodies.”
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