Rescuing and serving persecuted Christians since 1995
Select Page

India Briefs: Recent Incidents of Persecution

by Vishal Arora and Nirmala Carvalho

10/2/07 India (Compass Direct News) Karnataka – Hindu extremists from the Bajrang Dal on September 30 attacked and injured Christians during a worship service in Kodlipet in Somwarpet taluk, Kodagu district, Karnataka. Dr. Sajan K. George of the Global Council of Indian Christians said that the extremists, armed with iron rods and pipes, barged into the Indian Pentecostal Church shouting curses and slapped and punched pastor Freddy P. Cherian and pastor Benny George. They knocked Cherian’s father down with a blow to the head with an iron rod, continuing to beat him with rods as he lay bleeding, George told Compass. Cherian underwent treatment for a fractured right arm at Baptist Hospital in Bangalore and received 18 stitches on his head, George said. Christians filed a First Information Report against the extremists, and a police inspector told Compass that two of them had been arrested. The GCIC has written to the governor of Karnataka demanding an inquiry into 60 attacks on Christians in the last 18 months. – NC

Madhya Pradesh – Hindu villagers beat a pastor and filed a complaint against him, his wife and four other Christians, accusing them of conversion by “allurement” on September 29 in Dhar district of Madhya Pradesh state. Police arrested pastor Subhash Chouhan of the Indian Evangelical Team, his wife, their underage children and the four others under the state anti-conversion law and several other sections of the Indian Penal Code. The Christians, from a church in Sarai village in Nalsa area of Dhar district, were remanded to judicial custody and released on bail two days later, October 1. “The attack took place when the Christians were in the house of a local villager, who was healed from a disease after Pastor Chouhan prayed for him,” a local source told Compass. “This villager had also invited his relatives to meet with his Christian friends, and they were all watching a film based on Jesus’ life.” The source added that those watching the film had invited the Christians and had no objections. “The police did not file a complaint against the attackers, but promptly arrested the Christians on a frivolous complaint.” The source said the complainants were not present in the house and therefore had no legal standing to accuse the Christians of conversion by allurement. Police are investigating the case. – VA

Punjab – A drunk man and his family went to his neighbor’s house, where a Christian meeting was underway, and shot at one of the believers on September 27 in Lobaniawali area in Punjab state’s Muktsar district. A bullet partially struck the chin of Rasal Singh. “The armed man, a Sikh, abused the Christians saying his family did not like to hear the word ‘Halleluiah,’ and shot in the air and then at the Christians,” a representative of the Christian Legal Association told Compass. The Christians were not using a loudspeaker for the prayer meeting. Singh was admitted to a hospital and released after a few days. Police arrested Mahtar Singh, who fired the pistol, while other family members were still in hiding at press time. – VA

Chhattisgarh – Hindu extremists from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh on September 23 disrupted Christian worship at Sanjay Nagar, Kanker district, Chhattisgarh. Arun Pannalal, general secretary of the Chhattisgarh Christian Forum, said that about 20 Hindu extremists accompanied by around 25 local residents surrounded the church as independent pastor Pradyuman Meshram was preaching, began shouting anti-Christian slogans and demanded that the worship stop. Dr. Sajan K. George of the Global Council of Indian Christians told Compass, “The extremists barged into the prayer hall, walked up to Meshram and slapped and punched him. As he fell to the ground, the extremists began kicking him while continuously cursing him, alleging he was involved in conversion activities.” Extremists also damaged congregants’ motorbikes parked outside. Police detained the extremists, but a huge crowd gathered at the police station to accuse Meshram of forcible conversion, George said. Only by late evening did police register a First Information Report filed by Meshram. At press time, however, no arrests have been made. – NC

Orissa – A court in the western state of Orissa on September 22 sentenced four people to life imprisonment for killing a Catholic priest with arrows in Mayurbhanj district eight years ago. Those sentenced included Dara Singh, who in September 2003 had been sentenced to death for killing Australian missionary Graham Staines and his two young sons by burning them alive on January 22, 1999 in Orissa state’s Manoharpur area, reported The Hindustan Times. The Khurda sessions court also sentenced to life Jadunath Mahanto, Chema Ho and Rajkishore Majanto for killing Fr. Arul Doss on September 1, 1999 in Mayurbhanj’s Jamubani village. The four had been convicted by the court on September 11, while 17 other accused were acquitted for a lack of evidence. Singh told the media that he would challenge the court’s verdict in the state high court. In the Staines murder case, Singh had appealed to the Orissa High Court against the death sentence. The court set aside capital punishment, reducing it to a life sentence. An appeal of the High Court verdict by Singh and the government investigation agency is pending in the Supreme Court. – VA

Karnataka – A 38-year-old Christian woman and her guest were attacked by Hindu neighbors in her house on September 20 in Banaswadi area of Bangalore , capital of Karnataka state. The unidentified neighbors objected to the conversion to Christianity of Hoovu Jayanti, who till recently sold flowers in a Hindu temple, said Dr. Sajan K. George of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC). Jayanti attends an independent house church in the area. The Hindu family attacked Jayanti as a Christian woman identified only as Uma was visiting her along with her daughter. Uma had been visiting Jayanti for the last few months to encourage her, as she was despondent over health problems in her family. Both Jayanti and Uma received minor injuries. “GCIC is helping the Christian women to get justice in the case,” George said. – VA

Maharashtra – A local Hindu extremist threatened a Christian woman with rape and murder on September 18 near an ordnance factory in Jawahar Nagar area in Maharashtra state’s Bhandara district. Rajkapur Motghare went to the house of Manda Bawane of the Believers Church at 8:45 p.m. and threatened her, accusing her of a traffic accident that occurred while he was drunk and sustained minor injuries, Bishop M.A. Lalachan of the Believers Church told Compass. Motghare, who along with two other families has been opposing Christians in the area for the last year, had earlier shouted while riding drunk on his motorbike that the woman had brought the church into the area and therefore was responsible for the conflicts. After falling off of his scooter drunk, Motghare was brought home by local people but suddenly got up and went to Bawane’s house with his son, Lalachan said. Church authorities reported the incident to the Jawahar Nagar police station, which helped Christians and the Hindus objecting to their activities to reach an agreement on September 20. Local Christians, however, feel the Hindu families’ hostile attitude remains. – VA

Uttar Pradesh – Hindu extremists from the Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad on September 16 burned down the house church of pastor Virendra Singh in Barauli village (under Madiaon police station), Lucknow , Uttar Pradesh. Dr. Sajan K. George of the Global Council of Indian Christians said that a group of men led by Narendra Singh and Giri Baba reached the pastor’s thatched hut and threatened him and his wife Bhavna, and then set the hut on fire. The structure was reduced to rubble in a matter of a few minutes, reported the Times of India. “Virendra and Bhavna Singh ran for their lives but were caught and beaten up by some people accompanied by some villagers,” Madiaon police station in-charge R.K. Misra reportedly said. Virendra Singh denied that he or his wife were involved in any “forcible conversions.” The district convenor of the Bajrang Dal, Praveen Rai, had accused the couple of offering money and jobs to poor villagers. Virendra Singh filed a First Information Report at Madiaon police station, and Misra reportedly said that three persons had been arrested. – NC

Andhra Pradesh – Hindu extremists from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, and Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council) and its youth wing, Bajrang Dal, on September 9 disrupted the Sunday worship of Bethel Gospel Church at Anand Nagar, Amberpet, Hyderabad , Andhra Pradesh. Dr. Sajan K. George of the Global Council of Indian Christians said that some 300 believers had assembled for worship when a mob of around 30 Hindu extremists barged into the church shouting the Hindu devotional chant, “Jai Ram [Hail to Lord Ram]” and “Jai Hanuman [Hail to Lord Hanuman],” walked up to the dais and slapped pastor Kanukolanu Sudhakar. Sudhakar told Compass, “The extremists slapped me and then began abusing the believers in filthy, blasphemous curses; one of them grabbed the microphone from my hand and struck me on the head, causing my head to bleed.” The extremists destroyed furniture and damaged musical instruments and the sound system. Sudhakar filed a complaint at the Amberpet station. On September 10, police arrested eleven of the extremists and released them on bail the same day. – NC

Kerala – At least 15 extremists of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) attacked six Christians on September 4 near Parasuram temple in Tiruvallam area of Thiruvanandapuram, capital of Kerala state. With sharp weapons, the extremists assaulted Christians identified only as Jose, George, Santhosh, Bijoy, Jaykrish and Hari, who received serious injuries, said Paul Ciniraj of the Kerala-based Salem Voice Ministries. On September 6, police managed to arrest two RSS extremists identified only as Sreekumar and Lalu for the attack. Sreekumar is in charge of training the local RSS cadre, and Lalu is the leader of the Edayar area unit of the organization. A court remanded them to judicial custody on charges of attempted murder. Rights groups say Hindu extremists in the state have been trying to create religious tensions to help politically advance Hindu nationalistic parties. – VA