On Christmas eve in Madhya Pradesh’s Jhabua district, eight Christians set out on their bikes to do their yearly round of carol singing. As the bikes passed through Parnaali, a forested area in Meghnagar tehsil, they were waylaid by a group of alleged Bajrang Dal members. The carol singers were struck with sticks and axes.
“Out of nowhere, these men started pelting stones at us,” said Pastor Naikhya Garhwal, who was one of the carol singers.
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“Two people fell off their bikes,” he continued. “We were hit on our arms and backs with stones. When we fell off our bikes, more [attackers] came out and hit us with an axe. One of us, Ramesh, was hit directly on his head and his scalp was torn apart. My son, Sem, was hit so hard there was a big bump on his head. He developed serious internal injuries.”
Nearly a week after the incident, both were still in hospital.
The Jhabua incident is among the rash of attacks that broke out across the country around Christmas this year. Hindutva mobs disrupted celebrations in schools and other spaces, usually alleging they were attempts at forced religious conversion.
While some of the attacks made it to the news – for instance,…