A 72-year-old woman, her son and daughter-in-law were mercilessly beaten to a state of unconsciousness by religious fanatics in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. The elderly mother was left with a broken hand while the head injuries that her son sustained required stitches.
“Early in the morning, on the 14th of August, my mother and wife were busy with house chores while I was outside brushing my teeth. I was taken by shock and surprise when a group of men and women from my village stormed into my home and began to beat me up” said *Kanti Lal, in conversation with Persecution Relief.
“Before I could understand what was going on, I saw my wife and mother being dragged out and attacked as well, after which, all I remember is being brutally abused and assaulted” said Kanti Lal. He further explained that he recognized a few of the people that had attacked them, a few being from the same village itself.
“When I regained consciousness, I saw my wife and mother lying helpless and injured on the floor. I was bleeding profusely from my forehead. All I could think of doing was calling 100 for help.” Kanti Lal said that not long after he explained the situation to the operator, an ambulance arrived. They were all admitted to the government hospital and kept there for 3 days.
“I have a serious wound on my head with 5 stitches on it. My old mother’s hand is broken and my wife *Shoba is shattered after the attack. The fanatics vandalized my home as well. They made a mess of everything and left” said Kanti Lal.
Kanti Lal has been serving with the local Church for the past 5 years. Around 50 Christians are a part of this church and come from different parts of the district. Kanti has been facing harassment and threats over the past few months, on account of his Christian faith however this time round he says, “they tried to kill me and my family!”
A viral video of Kanti Lal’s attack is being circulated on social media and shows him and his family lying bruised and battered in a state of semi-consciousness. The video reveals a chilling perspective of religious intolerance in India. The fanatics took the liberty to viciously harm, even a helpless aged woman and strike during daylight with complete impunity.
The family is the only Christian family in that village and no one is willing to step forward and help them from fear of being attacked by the persecutors. Kanti Lal and his family have been shaken after the incident and have made a complaint at the local police station regarding the same.
Between January to July 2020, Persecution Relief has documented 9 religiously motivated hate crimes that have led to death, of which 2 involve rape. From January 2016 to June 2020, Persecution Relief has recorded 2067 cases of Hate crimes against Christians in India of which 293 cases were recorded in the first half of 2020 alone.
The US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has downgraded India to the lowest ranking, ‘Countries of Particular Concern’(CPC) in its 2020 report. The US State Department ranked India’s persecution severity at “Tier 2” along with Iraq and Afghanistan. Over the past seven years, India has risen from No. 31 to No. 10 on Open Doors’ World Watch List, ranking just behind Iran in persecution severity.
Shibu Thomas is founder of Persecution Relief