It was a stifling July afternoon when the crowd moved into the small district of Lakholi, in the Indian state of Chhattisgarh, and gathered outside the house of Tamesh War Sahu. Sahu, a 55-year-old volunteer with the Home Guard who had begun following Christianity more than five years previously, had never before had issues with his neighbors.
But now, more than 100 people had descended from surrounding villages and were shouting Hindu nationalist slogans outside his front door. Sahu’s son Moses, who had come out to investigate the noise, was beaten by the mob, who then charged inside.
As the men entered the house, they shouted death threats at Sahu’s wife and began tearing posters bearing Bible quotes down from the walls. Bibles were seized from the shelves and brought outside where they were set alight, doused in water and the ashes thrown in the gutter. “We will teach you a lesson,” some people were heard to shout. “This is what you get for forcing people into Christianity.”
Sahu’s family was not the only one attacked that day. Four other local Christian households were also targeted by mobs, led by the Hindu nationalist vigilante group Bajrang Dal, known for their aggressive and hardline approach to “defending” Hinduism. “We had never had any issue before but now our local community has turned against us,” said Sahu.