Members of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a Hindu nationalist organisation, have been relentlessly attacking Christians in Kanyakumari District (Tamil Nadu). On Sunday, a man was killed and two more suffered serious injuries to the head. All three belonged to the (Anglican) Church of South India (CSI) in the village of Nadaikavu. Police filed a first information report against Dharmaraj, head of the local Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), a Hindu nationalist party, and six other men. Fearing more violence, they deployed an additional 1,000 agents to patrol the area.
The first attack took place in the village of Sasthancode, where a local resident, Gnanamuthu, 50, had organised a prayer service at his home. The local CSI pastor and other 15 members of the Church were in attendance.
Just after the start of the service, a mob of RSS militants came to the house and began destroying the cars, participants had parked outside. Gnanamuthu and his son Johnson came out to stop them. Instead, they were attacked with sticks, and suffered serious injuries. Both father and son were eventually taken to a local hospital as the other Christians went to file a complaint at the police station in Nithiravilai.
In the village of Nadaikavu, a group of 15 RSS militants went on a rampage. When they began breaking the windows of a shop, Edwin Raj, 29, son of the shop owner, tried to stop them but was instead brutally assaulted. Eventually, the young man died on his way to Thiruvananthapuram Government medical college.
Sajan George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), condemned the attacks, warning that the situation in Kanyakumari District was “rapidly deteriorating.”
He noted that in the same area on 13 August, three Christian women, a 44-year-old mother, and her two daughters, respectively 25 and 22, had also been attacked.
When the two young women went outside of their home, neighbours began harassing them. After they retreated into the house, they were followed and beaten up along with their mother. Two weeks after the assault, all three are still recovering in hospital.
Local BJP boss C. Padmanabhan is also thought to be involved in this attack as well.
For George, “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.”
Article 25 of the Indian constitution grants every citizen the right to profess, practice and propagate their religion.