Christians attacked while caroling in Banswara, Rajasthan, India
Hindu extremists attacked a group of Christians on carol rounds, on 14 December in Banswara district, Rajasthan, India.The group was made up of about 20 Christians including women and children and was led by Fr. Stephen Rawat, Priest of St. Peter and Paul Catholic Church Tikariya Banswara.
Speaking to Global Christian News, Fr. Stephen Rawat recalled, “Every year we conduct carol rounds and take people for singing and praying in catholic families. This year we started our carol singing from 11 December.”
“On 14 December we had finished our carol singing at a catholic family’s house near Rati Talai area and were returning after praying for them when the attack took place.” He added.
“20 – 30 people with batons and sticks in their hands attacked us. The women, children and men who were walking ahead were attacked first. I was talking to the family and a few nuns were also there so we did not know the attack had taken place.” Fr. Rawat recollected.
“As I came out of the street into the open I saw our people running here and there and questioned the persons who were attacking us. As soon as I did that, they turned their attention and attack towards me. I was beaten up for around 4 minutes by a group of people who used sticks and batons on me. After that they ran away.” He added.
The attackers were alleging that Christians were converting people and were shouting slogans against Christians as well as slogans like “Bharat Mata Ki Jai” (Victory to Mother India). They told the Christians to leave the area.
Seven Christians other than Fr. Stephen Rawat also sustained injuries and received first aid at the MG Hospital Banswara, also near Rati Talai. An FIR was filed against unknown people at the local police station.
“I am sure they were people connected with Hindu organizations. They are troublemakers. It is apparent that they were trained to injure but not draw blood. I got hurt badly on my back and leg.” Fr. Rawat observed.
“When we were at a previous house, singing for them, it was reported later to me that a group of people had gathered outside that house and had indulged in sloganeering against Christians but were chased away by locals. It could have been that those very people called these attackers to follow us and beat us.” Fr. Rawat said.
The Christian community in Banswara took out a rally to protest this attack on the Christians but the police so far have done nothing in the case and no arrests have been made.
Fr. Stephen Rawat is a Catholic Priest for the past 28 years and is a local person belonging to this area. Earlier in 2004 in the month of August when he was working as the Director for social work and was taking people to Ajmer to participate in meetings, some people stopped him in Chittorgarh alleging conversion and he was even arrested by the police. But the case is over now and he has been absolved of all the charges.
When GCN spoke to him, he was on his way to participate in a join carol singing organized by the Church of North India.