The attack began at 9:30 p.m. when a mob of villagers influenced by Hindu radicals stormed into the homes of seven Christian families in Patamanda village. The mob verbally abused the Christians and beat them with bamboo sticks. Two Christians, Mohan Vadeka and Mistu Vadeka, were targeted by the mob because of their leadership positions within the local Christian community. To escape the violent mob, the 40 Christians fled into the nearby forest. The mob then ransacked the seven Christian homes.
“Forty of us, including women and infants, walked more than two kilometers through the thickest forests in the dark,” Jilla Vadeka told ICC. “We traveled to the police station for help, but no help was rendered. We were just told to come back tomorrow.”
When the Christians returned to the police station on April 15, police officers arranged a compromise between the Christian and Hindu villagers. “They told both of us not to interfere in each other’s faith and sent us away,” Mohan Vadeka said. “However, when we returned to Patamanda, there was a huge crowd waiting for us. They ruthlessly chased us back to the forest.”
“For more than a week now, we cannot stay freely in our homes,” Jilla Vadeka explained to ICC. “We are worried for our lives.”
On Friday, April 19, the Christians of Patamanda were told that they were not allowed to stay in the village if they continued to practice their faith. “Two border security force [officials] came to the village and threatened us,” Mohan Vadeka said. “They said that we cannot stay in the village if we follow the Christian faith. They said we would lose our government subsidized food and lose our ID cards.”
“This is not the first time Christians in this region have faced violent attacks,” a local pastor, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told ICC. “The consequences of practicing the Christian faith can mean losing your house, facing social boycotts, and even physical torture. Christians cannot depend on police for help.”
ICC’s Regional Manager, William Stark, said, “Local authorities in India must do more to help the Christians of Patamanda village. Too often, attacks on Christians and their places of worship are ignored by India’s authorities. This climate of impunity has only emboldened Hindu radicals who now feel that they have a free hand to attack religious minorities across the country. Article 25 of India’s constitution guarantees religious freedom to all citizens. Until this right is enforced, Article 25 will remain only words on paper for the Christians of Patamanda village.”