“There is nothing left, we became homeless, with no food to eat or clothing to wear,” says Lalu Toliya Wakhala who has been harassed by Hindutva groups because of his faith in Christianity for more than a decade.
Last month, on 28 November, Lalu’s home in Jhirawaliya village in Jhabua District of Madhya Pradesh was burned to ash by Hindutva men.
Now, Lalu lost all his possessions, including his home, households, and stored crops, and even cash he kept.
Lalu and his family converted to Christianity 15 years ago.
Since the conversion, Lalu said, he and his family have faced opposition from Hindu nationalists in the region demanding they give up Christianity.
On that Sunday, when Lalu’s home was burned to ash, he was not there. Lalu and his family went to prayer in Tichikiya, a neighboring village. During the prayer, Lalu received an SOS call letting him know his house was on fire.
By the time Lalu returned to the home village, his home, and everything inside were burned to ash.
“Even the cash we had saved and crops we had stored was completely burned,” said Lalu who has been practicing Christians for the past 15 years.
“We have lost everything,” he said.
Before leaving to ‘home,’ Lalu and his family witnessed another hate crime against Christians.
While their prayer was taking place inside a house, a Hindutva mob encircled the house where Sunday worship was taking place in Tichikiya. The mob threatened the priest and other worshippers, demanding they recant their Christian faith.
There were 13 Christians inside the house.
No arrest has been made in the case.
Following the attack, all the Christians who gathered for prayer received a notice from district authorities asking them to explain their conversions to Christianity.
Hindutva groups have been saying that all conversions to Christianity in the region are illegal.
Madhya Pradesh has seen a rise in attacks against Christians this year after the governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) enacted a new draconian anti-conversion law in the state.