Police in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh watched as fundamentalist Hindus attacked the Christian nephew of Arun Shourie, a prominent journalist and member of India's upper house of Parliament.

Chandrakant Shourie, his wife Rebecca, their son Ashish and some friends and neighbors were allegedly attacked by six members of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) on December 31, 1999, in Nagod, a remote town about 1000 kilometers southeast of New Delhi.

During the attack, the six men, armed with sticks, shouted, "Kill this Christian. We will make Nagod another Orissa," a reference to the murder of Australian missionary Graham Staines and his two sons in January 1999. The group abused and beat Chandrakant Shourie before family members locked him in a room for his own safety. Rebecca Shourie suffered a wound on her hand, and their son Ashish needed five stitches on his right hand. Three friends were badly beaten. "God saved us," Rebecca Shourie said.

The Hindu group had previously tried to disrupt prayer services in Nagod.

Chandrakant Shourie told Compass that the head of the VHP in Bombay, Ashok Chowgule, called him and told him not to blame the VHP, as they were being falsely accused of involvement in the attack.

The Sangh Parivar (family of Hindu groups) claims Hindus are being forced to convert to Christianity. However, Chandrakant Shourie told Compass he became a Christian of his own accord.

Arun Shourie, a member of India's ruling Bharatiya Janatha Party, has been at the forefront of a campaign against Christians. In his latest book titled, "Harvesting Our Souls," he goes to great lengths to demand and eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. He has not been on speaking terms with his nephew since his nephew's Christian conversion.

In a January 15 letter to the Bhopal director of police, Chandrakant Shourie noted that 15 days after the incident, "The main culprits roam about freely, indulging in a malicious campaign of character assassination and lies, and continuing to vitiate the atmosphere with hatred and poison. The police registered a counter case against us, accusing me of being drunk and abusing and entering the house of these powerful Thakurs (high caste privileged Hindus who hold power in the administration and the police) with an axe! It is amazing. For the last 20 years that we have lived in this town, no one has seen me drunk and beating up people on the streets! I don't even abuse in private! The people who are the culprits have attacked us before in 1993."

Chandrakant Shourie says he has lost all confidence in the police and has asked for prayer.

The Shouries moved to Nagod, one of India's most remote areas, over 20 years ago to establish a school for the most disadvantaged. They have often helped the poor get redress through proper legal and administrative procedures.

Chandrakant Shourie is also an active member of the National Forum for Reconciliation, Religious Liberty and Social Justice, organized by the Evangelical Fellowship of India, and has investigated attacks against Christians.Copyright © 2000 Compass Direct. Used with permission.

Related Elsewhere

Our March 1 Special News Report, " The Fiery Rise of Hindu Fundamentalism," looked at the Staines murders and the current situation in the country.See our earlier coverage at ChristianityToday.com:

Hindu Radical Fingered in Staines Killing (Sept. 6, 1999)

Priest Killed for 'Illegal' Conversions (Oct. 25, 1999)

Hindus Protest Papal Visit to India | Fundamentalists accuse Christians of 'forced conversions' (Nov. 16, 1999)

Murdered missionary's widow will continue his work with India's lepers | Impression of India 'not at all' changed by murder of husband and children (Dec. 1, 1999)

The U.S. Department of State Annual Report on International Religious Freedom examines India's religious freedom from political and societal perspectives, and remarks on what the U.S. government has done in response to human rights infringements in the country.