A bishop in the north-eastern Indian state of Assam has spoken of his “shock” after a local priest was attacked with a machete on 19 June.
Bishop Michael Akasius Toppo of Tezpur told UCA News it was “the first ever incident like this in our region”. (Assam is one of seven states in India’s north-east corner, linked to the rest of the country by a narrow strip of land. Tribal peoples there perceive themselves to be very different – in culture, identity, and even looks – from the rest of India.)
“We are clueless about the motive behind the attack,” said the Bishop. “So far no one has been arrested in the case.”
Father Sushil John Soren was discharged from hospital on 22 June, after receiving treatment for “serious wounds” to his hands.
Although this may have been a rare case of anti-Christian violence in Assam state, there have been regular attacks on Christians and churches elsewhere in the country, especially in the two years since Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power, as shown in this timeline.
In one recent incident on 16 June, a church was demolished in the southern city of Hyderabad. A week earlier, a cross was torn down in Mumbai. Meanwhile, on 2 June, World Watch Monitor reported that a video showing members of a Hindu nationalist group receiving firearms training went viral on social media in India.
The video, depicting Bajrang Dal members in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, was criticised as “coercing young people towards violence and encouraging violence against minorities”, reported the BBC.