“A Catholic service was stormed by a group of nationalists in India and the priest beaten up. But instead of getting police protection, he was charged for rioting.
A group of men believed to be part of a radical Hindu youth group wreaked havoc in the residence of Father Vineet Vincent Pereira in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh on November 14.
Pereira was conducting a service in the town of Ghohana when two men stormed into the four-bedroom house in order to ’cause tension,’ Catholic news site the Crux reports. The duo were joined by two other men, who started attacking one of the people present at his service.
‘I went to his rescue, and they hit me on the head, pulled my hair and hit me on my arm, making conversion allegations. Soon the number of attackers swelled,’ the priest said.
The attackers are reportedly part of the Hindu Yuva Vahini, a group attempting to re-convert Hindus who may have changed religion.
The priest was taken into custody following the incident, supposedly for his own safety, but was charged the next day with unlawful assembly and rioting.
The 43-year-old was bailed on the same evening.
The assault comes against a backdrop of anti-Christian violence hitting record highs in the northern Indian state.
Uttar Pradesh is the most populous state in India, with 225 million people. Christians only account for 0.18 percent, or 350,000 of the overall population.
Christian leaders in the state claim attacks against their community have increased since Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) took control of the state government in 2017. The BJP is known to have close affiliations with Hindu nationalist groups.”