BY ANTON CARILLO

Hindi nationalists in India reportedly use COVID as an excuse to attack Christians, even as the latter are praying inside their homes.

The International Christian Concern (ICC) reported that Hindu Nationalists on Sunday attacked a pastor and his family in India’s Madhya Pradesh state. ICC said the nationalists attacked the pastor for “holding a family prayer in their home.” ICC cited local sources who said the COVID crisis was used as an excuse for the radicals to attack the pastor and his family.

Three men attacked Pastor Harish’s home at 9pm by throwing stones, shouting obscenities, and destroying the wooden fence. The attackers threatened the pastor if they will continue praying in his home, which is located outside of Jhabua.

“We were really frightened, hearing the curses and filthy language. They were very furious and told me that I should not hold any prayers, even with my own family,” the pastor told ICC in an interview.

Pastor Harish added that the attackers said the reason they were stopping him from praying was that he was violating COVID protocols on assembling for prayers. The pastor said this was not the case since he was only praying with his family. The pastor also revealed that this was the second time they were attacked.

“This is not the first time. About a year ago we were attacked even worse. But when I approached the police, they did not act against the culprits. They targeted me instead and gave me a hard time,” he narrated.

As per ICC, the pastor used to hold prayer services and gatherings in his home before the pandemic. This was regularly attended by 80 families.

Similar incidents have been happening in India where Christians are being attacked while praying at home. Last month, a pastor, his wife, and a member of their congregation was praying in their home when Hindu Nationalists supporters from the Vishwa Hindu Parishad group came and attacked them.

The pastor, his wife, and congregation member suffered severe injuries that led them to be brought to the hospital for medical attention. Ironically, part of the attackers were the pastor’s brothers.

While a mob of 70 Hindus attacked 30 Christians gathered in prayer in their home in India’s Chhatisgarh state last March. The mob burned Bibles, destroyed property, and left six of the 30 Christians seriously injured and in need of hospitalization.

The attack on Pastor Harish took place in the face of the “unimaginable” COVID-19 surge happening in India that has prompted Christians there to call out to the international community for prayers and assistance.

Much of the assistance needed by COVID-19 patients in India are medical oxygen that has gone into shortage. Recently, international organizations, such as Operation Blessing, have sent in donations for oxygen.

The Union of Catholic Asian News reported that Christian groups have teamed up to provide a food scheme to assist India in its current crisis due to the pandemic as India’s Supreme Court has appointed a medical team to address the country’s lack of oxygen supply. UCA News said Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is being blamed for India’s current pandemic crisis due to his decision-making style.

This story first appeared on christianitydaily.com