Some Christians in India's Jharkhand state were hospitalized and arrested after being brutally attacked by religious nationalists who accused them of constructing an "unauthorized" church building and trying to convert people to Christianity.
On February 11, Christians were brutally attacked by religious nationalists in Meral village while the Christians were working on the construction of a new church building.
The incident resulted in serious injuries that sent three Christians to the hospital. Another 12 of them were falsely charged with various crimes they allegedly committed, the International Christian Concern (ICC) wrote.
Local sources told the ICC that a mob of 30 religious nationalists, led by a man named Shankar, attacked the construction site where the Christians were working.
Many Christians were injured in the attack including Pastor Ramnath Ram, Pravesh Ram, and Jai Murty Kunwar. All three were hospitalized due to severe injuries. Others sustaining minor injuries include Sunil Ram, Shiv Shankar Kumar, Shambhu Kumar, Ayan Kumar, Anita Devi, and Ruby Devi.
"The mob was shouting that the Christians were converting people to Christianity," an eyewitness told the ICC. "They said they would not let the Christians continue to live in this place."
Local authorities filed FIR No. 20/21 against 21 Christians who were attacked by the mob. Three of them, namely Sunil Kumar, Sambu Kumar, and Aryan, were arrested and sent to jail.
A local indicated that the incident didn't seem spontaneous; rather, it was a pre-meditated event.
"This seems to be a pre-planned incident," the local, a Christian who requested to stay anonymous, told the ICC. "The radical nationalists somehow wanted the church to be shut down in this village."
"That is why they targeted the pastor and the construction of the church building."
Jharkhand State is one of the nine states in India to have implemented an anti-conversion law. Radical nationalists often misuse these controversial laws to abuse and intimidate Christians. They use false accuse Christians of forcing conversions to gain legal immunity for their assaults on religious minorities.
An article from Hindustan Times in 2017, wrote that the Jharkhand's Religious Freedom Bill is targeted primarily at Christians, which comprises about 4.3 percent of Jharkhand's overall population according to the 2011 Census, and goes against the freedom of religious belief in the constitution of India.
Previous reports from Christianity Daily indicated that Hindu nationalists have been using such laws to persecute believers and have them thrown in jail.
Earlier this month, a group of six Christians, including three pastors, were attacked in the Balaghat District of Madhya Pradesh in Central India. The three pastors were arrested and sent to jail for allegedly forcing conversions in Bagoli village. The perpetrators were Hindu nationalists.
Last month, a group of Christians were also thrown in prison for allgedly violating the new anti-conversion law. The Christians were merely doing charity work in the Gautam Buddh Nagar District of Uttar Pradesh at the time, giving food to the poor people in the location. Police officers were behind the arrests and eventual imprisonment of the group, which included a Korean Christian named Mi Kyung Lee.