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News Briefs on Recent Incidents of Persecution

4/20/07 India (Compass Direct News) – Andhra Pradesh; Hindu extremists launched an attack on the Bethel Church in Kabir Nagar area in Hyderabad , the capital of Andhra Pradesh state, on April 15. According to Dr. Sajan K. George, national president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), at least three Christians, including a 3-year-old girl and the church pastor, received injuries in the attack that took place during a Sunday morning worship service. There were at least 20 people attending the church. “The assailants [identified only as Vamsi Krishna, Vishal and Thilak] stormed the service and covered Pastor Ravi Paul’s face with a paper and began hitting him with wooden clubs and fists,” George said. “They did not even spare an orphan girl [identified as Quency], who received minor injuries.” Pastor Paul’s eye was injured, and he received some internal injuries. Another Christian, Kiran Paul, received a hand fracture. The attackers fled after villagers came to rescue the Christians, but before leaving threatened to kill the pastor. The GCIC helped the victims to file a complaint in the Santhi Nagar police station.

Orissa – Police in Orissa state arrested four pastors under the state anti-conversion law on April 17 after Hindu extremists filed a complaint against them of “forcibly converting” Hindus. The four pastors – Pran Ranjan Mali , and independent pastor, Santosh Kumar Majhi of the Indian Pentecostal Church , and Jason Badra and Roshan Lima of the Believers Church in India – were released on bail the following day. Dr. Sajan K. George, national president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), told Compass that the assailants from different Hindu extremist groups took the pastors to a temple to tonsure them as punishment for preaching Christianity. The pastors were distributing free Christian tracts and selling Bibles door-to-door on their bicycles in Mouza area under the Govindpur police station in Orissa’s Cuttack district. “However, since the extremists could not make the arrangements for the ‘purification’ ceremony, which involves tonsuring and sprinkling of cow dung, they instead lodged a false complaint against them,” George said. Police scolded the pastors and did not allow them to contact their attorney. “The pastors somehow managed to send a text message to GCIC and we intervened,” George said. “They are safe and in their respective homes now.”

Andhra Pradesh – Police in Andhra Pradesh state arrested five Christians for praying for the sick and distributing Christian literature in Gandhi Hospital in Hyderabad , the state capital, on April 14. The Hyderabad police arrested the five, four of who were identified only as Charan, Rajeswari, Sunita and Mary, after some junior doctors objected to their visit and complained to the police, Dr. Sam Paul, public affairs secretary of the All India Christian Council (AICC), told Compass. The Christians were from Tarnaka area of Hyderabad . The police took the Christians into custody and later released them. The AICC condemned the arrest of the Christian visitors, calling it against the India Constitution, which gives religious freedom to people of all religions.

New Delhi – A Sikh father, along with other relatives, beat his daughter and her would-be fiancé on April 14 to retaliate against the girl’s decision to receive Christ and turn from Sikhism. Daljit Kaur, 25, who accepted Christ in January 2006 and lives in Delhi , has been taken to Hoshiarpur city in Punjab state by her parents, said a local source. Kaur’s father had earlier asked Govindra Singh, an elder of the New Life Fellowship, not to encourage his daughter to attend the church. Anticipating trouble, Kaur had filed a complaint in the Tilak Nagar police station on April 14. That evening, however, Kaur’s father called her fiancé, identified only as Amit, her unidentified brother-in-law and Singh to a restaurant in central Delhi , saying he wanted to resolve the issue. When they met, Kaur’s brother-in-law suggested they should go to an open space so that they could talk comfortably. They went to the India Gate gardens, where they beat Singh and forcibly took Kaur away in their vehicle.

Andhra Pradesh – A team of Christian workers faced two attacks by Hindu extremists and Muslim women on April 11 in Madanapally area of Chittoor district, Andhra Pradesh state. The team included five women and the pastor of a local Bhakta Singh Assembly church identified only as David. They were allegedly attacked by extremists of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, its political wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and BJP’s student wing, Akhil Bhartiya Vidhyarti Parishad (All India Students’ Council), while they were returning after distributing Christian literature in the area at 8:30 a.m., said Dr. Sam Paul, public affairs secretary of the All India Christian Council. The assailants, who were waiting for the Christians in their vehicles, first beat the Christian men and then the women. Soon afterward unidentified Muslim women also came and started beating the Christian women. All the attackers, totaling about 70, burned the Christian literature and took photographs of the Christians. No one received serious injuries in the attack. The Kurabalakota police station has filed a case against assailants identified only as Narendra, Jagadish, Mani, Srinivasulu, Cuddapah Rajeshaker and other extremists for attacking the Christians.

Punjab – Hindu extremists barged into an independent church, vandalized furniture and falsely accused a pastor of rape on April 10 in Lehragaga area in Punjab state’s Sangrur district. The Rev. Madhu Chandra of the All India Christian Council told Compass that about 100 extremists of the Bajrang Dal, the youth wing of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council or VHP), broke the furniture, took away musical instruments and burned Christian literature. “The miscreants also placed the scriptures of the Sikh faith, Guru Granth Sahib, inside the church, conducted its reading and changed the signboards, saying it was a Gurudwara [Sikh temple],” Chandra said. The assailants then filed a police complaint against Pastor Malok Singh alleging he had raped a woman. Singh was arrested by the police the same day and released on bail on April 19. Later local Sikh leaders accompanied by police came, removed the Sikh scriptures and restored the building as a church, Chandra added. Police have also filed a case against the Bajrang Dal extremists, but no arrests were made at press time.

Andhra Pradesh – A group of Hindu extremists attacked a pastor in his house on Easter Sunday (April 8) in Ananthapuram area in Andhra Pradesh state’s Anantpur district. Dr. Sam Paul, public affairs secretary of the All India Christian Council, told Compass that the assailants were allegedly from the Bharatiya Janata Party, its students wing Akhil Bhartiya Vidhyarti Parishad (All India Students Council), Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council or VHP) and its youth wing Bajrang Dal. The attackers barged into the house of independent pastor Isaac Medige and accused him and his wife, Evangeline, of “forced conversions.” There were about 20 students in the pastor’s house at the time. The assailants beat the pastor and threatened the students, then seized all Christian literature. Following the attack, the attackers went to police to file a complaint against the Christian couple. Officers refused, but “the police warned the Christians that they should not hold Christian meetings in their house,” said Paul, adding that no complaint was registered against the attackers either.

Andhra Pradesh – Andhra Pradesh state police arrested seven Christians who were attacked by a mob of 300 extremists from the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council) on April 4; previously the extremists had filed a police complaint against the believers for “forced conversion.” According to Dr. Sajan K. George, national president of the Global Council of Indian Christians, the incident took place when the seven Christians, including a medical doctor identified only as Peter, two pastors and four women of the Hebron church, were distributing Gideon Bibles in Metpelly town in Karimnagar district. No one received serious injuries. The assailants also burned about 200 Bibles and damaged three microphones. All the Christians were released the following day, on April 5.

Andhra Pradesh – Local residents of Pilla Vagu village in Palvancha area of Andhra Pradesh state’s Khammam district have ostracized a Christian woman, identified only as Akkamma, because she refused to donate to construction of a temple for a local goddess, Dr. Sajan K. George, national president of the Global Council of Indian Christians, told Compass. Akkamma, from the Koya tribe like the villagers, accepted Christ a few months ago. The villagers asked for a donation, as a local priest told them that they could stop the deaths of local children that have occurred in the past few months only by erecting a temple to please the goddess Muthyalamma. “Pastors from the area tried to help the villagers and the Christian woman reach a compromise, but the village head and villagers are not willing,” George said. “The woman, however, is very strong in her faith and continues to believe in the teachings of the Bible.”

Andhra Pradesh – A local extremist identified as Kala Naik beat an independent pastor, Koteswara Rao Naik, with sandals during a Christian meeting on April 4 in Zakrampalli area in Andhra Pradesh state’s Nizamabad district. “Naik came to the meeting drunk and asked Pastor Naik to switch off the microphone,” said Dr. Sam Paul of the All India Christian Council. “The pastor promptly switched it off and continued with the meeting. Naik left, but returned after a little while and started abusing and beating the pastor with sandals.” The following day, Naik visited the pastor again, along with some area leaders, and apologized and asked him to continue to hold Christian meetings, Paul added.