By ICC’s India Correspondent
Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – “I was worried about the elderly people who were in the church that day,” Pastor Philip Rangasamy, pastor at Praise the Lord Church in Kanjapalli, explained in a recent interview with International Christian Concern (ICC). “They attacked us with iron rods and heavy wooden sticks.”
Recalling the day that shook his entire congregation to its core, Pastor Rangasamy detailed the brutal attack that left four of his church members seriously injured on May 3. “Six people from the Hindu Munnani broke into the church and started beating us and shouting abusive language,” Pastor Rangasamy said. “They told us to close down the church.”
“We were having a peaceful fasting prayer program without any loud noise,” Pastor Rangasamy recalled. “The church doors were closed, but the attackers accused us of creating a nuisance by having a church program.”
Iyyanan, a 32-year-old member of Praise the Lord Church, had his left hand broken when it was hit by a Hindu Munnani wielding an iron rod. Angapal, a 70-year-old church member, sustained a serious head injury as a result of the attack. According to Pastor Rangasamy, Angapal’s head injury resulted in blood clot forming under the skull and required the elderly Christian to seek medical attention. Two others, including Pastor Rangasamy, were seriously injured in the church assault and were taken to the local hospital by an ambulance following the attack.
In addition to injuring four members of Praise the Lord Church, the Hindu Munnani also broke fans and furniture, and even damaged the church’s roof.
Unfortunately, this is not the first time that Pastor Rangasamy and Praise the Lord Church have had to deal with abuse by the Hindu Munnani. In February, members of the radical group started harassing the church.
“They told [the] pastor and the church members not to hold any Christian meetings in the village because this village belongs to Hindus.”
“The first incident with the Hindu Munnani happened on February 10 of this year,” a local Christian, who requested anonymity, told ICC. “The church has existed in the village for the last 13 years and there was absolutely no issue until February 10 when more than 25 Hindu radicals threatened Pastor Rangasamy. They told [the] pastor and the church members not to hold any Christian meetings in the village because this village belongs to Hindus.”
Following the threats in February, Pastor Rangasamy turned to local authorities for help. “I had to get a stay order for the High Court just to resume worship in my church,” Pastor Rangasamy told ICC. “However, I am not sure how long that stay order will work. I have to run pillar to post to worship as a church in Kanjapalli. It really pains me that I cannot practice the faith of my choosing in a free country like India.”
Pastor Rangasamy has reported the May 3 incident to local police officers. These officers registered a first information report against the members of the Hindu Munanni (named Prakash, Kanakaraj, Kovel Prasad, Manigandan, Dhanashakar, and Santhosh) who led the brutal assault. However, as a precautionary measure, police have instructed Pastor Rangasamy to not hold any more church activities in Kanjapalli without obtaining permission from the appropriate authorities.
The Coimbatore district of India’s Tamil Nadu state, where Kanjapalli and Praise the Lord Church are located, has become a hotbed of Christian persecution in the last three years. Local radical organizations, like the Hindu Munanni, use violence and influence over local authorities to forcibly close down house churches across the region.
As a result, many of these churches have been forced to secure stay orders from courts to remain open. For Christians who attend these churches, times are difficult. Left in a state of limbo, many wonder how long will these orders keep their churches open, and if a day will come when their churches will be closed for good.