An unprovoked attack during Bible study in a village in India has left one Christian dead and many others wounded.
The attack was reportedly conducted by Hindu nationalists with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) during a prayer service at a Church of South India (CSI) in the state of Tamil Nadu, leaving one villager dead and 12 injured, according to the last update of official statistics.
Local reports indicate the CSI minister was leading a prayer service in the village of Sasthancode, which belongs to the Diocese of Kanyakumari, when word spread to local Hindus that a Hindi woman was invited by a friend to attend the prayer service. The attackers began demonstrations accusing the minister of trying to convert Hindus to Christianity.
Two parishioners were taken to a local hospital and treated, but the demonstration then bubbled over into the neighboring village of Nadaikavu, where a Christian man described by police as Edwin Raj, 29, was allegedly beaten to death by Hindu extremists.
Officials with the local police have reportedly charged seven BJP party members for their role in the attack and are also currently looking to question the Kanyakumari district BJP party chief over his role in demonstration.
The police also issued a curfew and ban on public assembly in an effort to curtail any further violence, according to The Times of India.
Sajan George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), condemned the attacks and issued a stern warning that the rise of religious intolerance is due to a lack of enforcement of the country’s religious freedom laws.
“The central government and that of Tamil Nadu must do something. Religious freedom is a fundamental human right and the basis of any healthy society. Such hostility and intolerance are a bad omen for India. If the whole population is not guaranteed freedom of worship, Christians could become second class citizens,” George explained to CNS.