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India Briefs: Recent Incidents of Persecution

By Mahruaii Sailo and Binaifer Wadia

Madhya Pradesh, February 7 MPBS24/7 (CDN REPORT) – Hindu extremists on Jan. 31 attacked a pastor, vandalized his church building and beat members of his congregation in Lall Barra village, Lalgarh Balaghat district, reported the Global Council of Indian Christians. At around 2 p.m. Pastor Mahandra Nath Deve of Alpha Bible Church was conducting worship when nearly 25 Hindu extremists barged into the church building, grabbed a Bible from him, tore its pages and began thrashing congregants. They smashed the public address system and musical instruments and accused the Christians of “conversion activities,” though evangelizing and conversion is legal in India. Deve told Compass that even as they were slapping him, he told his congregation not to retaliate, but rather to disperse. After Deve filed a complaint against the attackers, police arrested four Hindu extremists. “The estimated loss incurred due to vandalization is around 30,000 rupees [US$645],” Deve said. – BW

Karnataka – Hindu extremists from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and Bajrang Dal on Jan. 28 locked up five Christians and beat them in Kanakagiri, Koppal district. The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) reported that the Christians – identified only as J. Ravi, Lawrence, Williams, Manjula and James – were beaten mercilessly for being Christians. The assailants told the Christians that they either had to convert to Hinduism or move to another place, according to the GCIC. The Christians later received police protection. – MS

Andhra Pradesh – Hindu extremists kidnapped a pastor identified only as Jonathan D. and tried to force him to worship at a Hindu temple on Jan. 26 in Secunderabad. The All India Christian Council (AICC) reported that extremists with their faces covered grabbed the pastor from behind and forced him into a vehicle, and then drove him around for about six hours. The next day they forced him to enter a temple in a forested area, where they told him to bow down before their idols and shout “Jai Shri Ram [Hail Lord Ram],” and then beat him when he refused, verbally abusing and threatening him, according to the AICC. The pastor was able to escape on the night of Jan. 28 while the assailants were asleep. He walked about 15 kilometers (nine miles), found a main road leading to Gulbarga and, though he had no money, managed to reach Patancheru and call his family. His family had not informed police due to uncertainty and fear, according to the AICC. His relatives and church members picked him up by auto-rickshaw and returned him home. – BW

Karnataka – Acting on false complaints by Hindu nationalists, police on Jan. 25 arrested Christians in Kanakagiri village, Koppal district. The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) reported that at around 6:30 p.m., more than a dozen Christians had met for worship led by pastors John Harris and Ravi Kumar of the Evangelical Church of India when a mob of nearly 20 extremists from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh stormed into the service. Led by an area extremist identified only as Purushotham, they shouted profanities as they falsely accused the Christians of forced conversion, threw chairs and broke musical instruments, according to the GCIC. After chasing the Christians out, they hit Pastor Harris and Pastor Kumar with their fists. The extremists telephoned the police, who took the two pastors into custody. Kanakagiri police officials told Compass that the pastors have been charged with “deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting religion or religious beliefs.” At press time, the pastors were still in custody at Ganagavati sub-jail. – BW

Karnataka – Police in Hirekerur, Haveri district, on Jan. 23 detained a pastor after Hindu extremists disrupted the prayer service at the home of Rajanna Handijogar, where nearly 45 believers had assembled. The Global Council of Indian Christians reported that Pastor Suresh Yakob of the Christ’s Discipleship Prayer Fellowship was leading the weekly worship when nearly 50 extremists from the Bajrang Dal, led by extremists identified only as Shivakumar, Raghu and Veera, forcibly entered the house, took their Bibles, spoke in foul language and accused them of forced conversion. Pastor Yakob told Compass that Hirekerur police arrived and took him and at least 10 other Christians into custody, including a man identified only as Handijogar, his wife Girijima and their two daughters. The pastor said police also interrogated the Hindu extremists at the station. After nearly three hours of questioning, police reprimanded the extremists, saying the Christians had not violated any laws. “Police told me to give a written application requesting that they provide security,” Pastor Yakob said. – BW

Chhattisgarh – Hindu extremists from the Bajrang Dal beat Christians during their prayer meeting on Jan. 16 in Odisa, Konta, seriously injuring them. Pastor Wycliff Sayar told Compass that about 15 Christians from Konta Independent Church were praying when a group of extremists stormed in and began verbally abusing them for following Christ. Pastor Sagar said most of those gathered were converts from Hinduism from a tribal background. The Christians received hospital treatment for injuries on their heads, hands, legs and backs. – MS

Andhra Pradesh – Suspected Hindu extremists on Jan. 14 beat a pastor identified only as Swamidas and several other Christians, including his wife, as they were going to a meeting near Kamareddy, Nizamabad district. The victims went to Tadwai police station and tried to file a complaint, but officers refused because a member of the state assembly from the area, Ravinder Reddy, allegedly called a police sub-inspector, Vijaya Kumar, and urged him to have the parties sign an agreement rather than register a case, according to the All India Christian Council. – MS

Chhattisgarh – In Sirisguda, Jagdalpur, Hindu extremists on Jan. 12 beat a Christian for leaving Hinduism, seriously injuring him. Pastor S.S. Jhali told Compass that Itu Veko of Obedient Life Church decided to trust in Christ for his salvation a year ago, and since then area extremists have been threatening him. Hindu extremists led by Jintu Gond verbally abused Veko for his faith, ordered him to return to Hinduism and repeatedly beat him, Pastor Jhali said, describing an injury to Veko’s head as life-threatening. The Christian was receiving treatment at a government hospital. Area Christian leaders submitted a complaint to police in Badanji Thana, but no arrests had been made at press time. – MS

Maharashtra – Hindu nationalists on Jan. 6 beat three Christians who were distributing Christian literature in Kolaphur district. The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) reported that Akhil Prasanna, Shiju Mathew and Thomas George of the Satveda Mission were distributing gospel tracts when they were surrounded by nearly 35 Hindu extremists from the Bajrang Dal. The nationalist extremists grabbed the tracts, tore them up, shouted profanity at the Christians and falsely accused them of forced conversion before taking them to the Rajawada police station. Officers forced them to pledge that they will cease any future Christian work, according to the GCIC. Pastor Johnson George, director of the Satveda Mission, told Compass that while the Christians were later running errands at a market, the extremists pounced on them and beat them, as well as kicked them, pushed them to the ground and stomped on them. The Christians rushed back to their campus in Nagadev and later went to Kerala for medical treatment. Prasanna and Mathew were discharged after treatment for minor injuries, but George underwent further treatment for backbone injuries at Sree Sankara Hospital, Changanacherry, Kerala, according to the GCIC. – BW

Maharashtra – Hindu extremists on Dec. 24 attacked tribal Christians in Vikramgarh, Thane district. The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) reported that two unidentified tribal Christians from the Catholic Church were verbally abused for their faith in Christ and beaten mercilessly on Christmas Eve. The two Christians were treated at a hospital for their injuries, according to the GCIC. – MS

Worldwide Christian Persecutions

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