A group of Christians who were riding a bus on their way to a camp in eastern India were reportedly assaulted by a Hindu mob after they revealed the purpose of their trip to their fellow passengers.
According to Morning Star News, about 60 to 70 Hindu extremists were waiting for the Christians when they arrived at the bus station in Bettiah, Bihar state on Feb. 26.
The mob was reportedly contacted by a Hindu nationalist, who had argued about conversion with Christians during the trip.
A native missionary for the Gospel Echoing Missionary Society (GEMS) named D. Joseph, as well as another Christian, Baldev Singh, were separated from the group before they were assaulted by the mob, according to Rev. Mariosh Joseph, coordinator of GEMS in Bihar.
D. Joseph reportedly sustained several internal injuries and was sent to the hospital in a state of deep shock. Singh also suffered multiple injuries, including internal damage to his ear, causing some loss of hearing.
"It was evident from the mob that it was a pre-planned attack," Mariosh Joseph told Morning Star News. "There was a media person present to record and publish the entire episode in the media, along with the Hindu extremist mob," he added.
The Hindu extremists had reportedly interrogated the Christians and accused them of using money to lure poor villagers into converting to Christianity, according to GEMS zonal superintendent, identified only as Pastor Palanivelu.
Palanivelu said that the mob beat the Christians "mercilessly" in a public place as the other members of the group cried out for help, but no one came to their rescue.
When traffic officers tried to help the Christians, they were overpowered by the mob and other police officers had to be called to put the situation under control, the pastor said.
"Some of the women got so frightened that they fled the site and returned home from the bus station itself without attending the camp," Palanivelu said, noting that at least 11 women went on to the camp.
The police have reportedly refused to file a First Information Report about the incident, but they have recorded the statements of D. Joseph and Singh and a Medico-Legal Case has been filed against unknown persons.
GEMS, which works primarily in the state of Bihar, noted that there have been 12 cases of persecutions against its native missionaries last year, and there have already been three cases since January.
Persecution watchdog group Open Doors has ranked India as the 11th country where Christians experience the most persecution, up from 15th the previous year.
The organization noted that the most of persecution of Christians in India comes from a variety of Hindu radical groups and organizations such as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Shiv Sena and Vishya Hindu Parishad (VHP).