Date: December 23, 2019
Five extremists threatened to burn alive Christians attending an Advent celebration in a private house in Tamil Nadu, India on 17 December.
A local pastor attending the celebrations with his wife and children, aged eleven and four, said the men taunted and hit a 17-year-old boy as he arrived at the house dressed as Father Christmas. When the other Christians pleaded with the attackers to stop, they too were attacked and their clothes were torn.
The men threatened to set the Christians on fire in their vehicle, and verbally abused them, calling them “dogs” and “pariahs”. They also forced the owner of the house in Permuapalayam, where the celebration was being held, to evict his tenants, a Christian couple.
The pastor sought immediate medical help for the injured at a police check-post in Lakshmi Nagar, but was turned away. The following day the pastor and other local Christian leaders again met with apathy when they tried to lodge a complaint against the men at Chithode police station.
Local sources say the complaint was eventually recorded as a “non-cognizable offence”, which means that the police cannot make an arrest. The attackers also “apologised” to the Christians which meant they avoided arrest, before being given a warning by police.
In early December, the general secretary of the Evangelical Fellowship of India, Vijayesh Lal, urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take preventative steps against a likely rise in “hate crimes” against Christians in the lead up to Christmas.