There have been numerous large group attacks on tribal Christians in India recently, including one with a mob of 500 people on New Year's Day.
On January 1, 500 Hindu extremists gathered in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh in a village called Gorra and beckoned the Christians living in the village to come to the town square. After 15 Christians showed up, the mob attacked them.
According to Christianity Today, Aytu Ram Dhruw, a local Christian in his late 20s, heard the news from an injured friend who told him they needed immediate medical attention.
"About 20 of us quickly rushed to the village to carry them to the hospital and met the mob on our way while entering the village," says Dhruw. "The mob caught us and began to assault us."
Christians that were young and could run fast were able to get away mostly unscathed. However, elders who couldn't keep up were caught and beaten until they were unconscious, including Dhruw's father.
"They beat my father and three others with sticks, legs, fists, bricks, and stones."
Dhruw brought his father and the other injured to a local hospital for medical attention. However, that same night they had to leave as a couple of assaliants found out where they were.
The violent attack isn't an isolated incident. In the past few weeks, the state of Chhattisgarh has seen 1,500 tribal Christians traumatized and without a home.
"Accusing us of following a foreign religion, and leaving the tribal culture, they gave us a choice either to recant our faith or leave our homes and our village, never to return," says Dhruw.
A 2021 report from the Religious Liberty Commission of Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI) documented that Chhattisgarh has the second highest number of persecution incidents of Christians after Uttar Pradesh, the country’s most populous state.
"We told them that we are on the ‘Correct Way,’ and we cannot leave this Way; our lives have changed. But they refused to listen, and then by November they began to assault Christians in various villages."
The pressure from the Hindu extremists has caused some tribal Christians to choose their home or their faith.
"Some gave in to the pressure and renounced their Christian faith, while those who did not were assaulted and forced to leave the village immediately," says Salim Hakku, a pastor in the Bastar district.
With no help from the government, Christian refugees have found help from Christian organizations that have provided food, clothing, and basic necessities.
"The police have not only neglected our complaints, but they have also encouraged the attackers and we have evidence of this," says CCF chairman Arun Pannalal in a press conference on January 4.
After many attacks, the general secretary of the National Council of Churches in India, Asir Ebenezer, made a statement.
"The increase in violence against Christians all over India especially among the economically weaker sections of the society exposes the persecution meant to cleanse a particular religious community from all spaces," says Ebenezer.