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Recent Incidents of Persecution

ICC Note

India is known as democratic country to the outside world but Christians living in India continue suffering persecution.

03/31/2011 India  (CDN) -14 Christians, including two pastors, were arrested on March 29 for converting to Christianity without official permit in Orissa’s Mayurbhanj district. The Global Council of Indian Christians reported that the arrests came after a police complaint was filed against pastors Samuel Mohopathra and Manuel Mahopathra and 12 newly converted Christians. The Christians were produced before a court and were released on bail the same day, charged under the “Orissa Freedom of Religion Act,” which, ironically, bans any conversion lacking a permit issued by authorities. Sajan K. George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians, called on Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to withdraw the accusations and put a stop to anti-Christian violence in the state. “The attempts by lower level police and the Sangh Parivar are scandalous and a travesty of the noble vision and ideals enshrined in Indian constitution,” he said.

Uttarakhand – On March 28 in Phullaiya, Khatima, about 30 Hindu extremists barged into a Believer’s Church’s inaugural meeting of its Community Development Program, accused the Christians of forceful conversion and beat them. A Gospel for Asia representative, told Compass that at about 11 a.m. the extremists stormed into the meeting, accused Anoop Jena, Mohan Babu, Rohit Goerge and another Christian identified only as Danny of forceful conversion and started beating them. The four Christians sustained bruises. The intolerant Hindus later filed a police complaint, and officers took the four Christians to the police station for questioning. After local Christian leaders’ intervention, they were released later in the evening without charges.

Karnataka – Police on March 26 arrested four Christians, including three women, after Hindu nationalists beat them and called police with a false complaint against them of forced conversion in Devasthur village, Madikeri, Coorg district. The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) reported that Christ’s Fellowship Church evangelist A.J. Diwakar, along with church members identified only as Telsi, Savitha and Agnes, went to Devasthur to deliver gospel tracts to some of their church members living there. A GCIC coordinator told Compass that a few Hindu extremists noticed the presence of the Christians, surrounded them and snatched their bags. As a village Hindu festival was going on that brought many others to the area, soon the extremists swelled to more than 40; they repeatedly slapped, punched and kicked the Christians, denigrating them with foul language. Madikeri police came to the site and took the victims to the Madikeri police station; they were charged with “deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings or any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs.”

Chhattisgarh – On March 13 in Raipur, Chattisgarh, Hindu extremists tried to stop the worship meeting of Church of Christ, accusing Pastor Peter Singh of forceful conversion. Pastor Singh told Compass that about eight extremists asked him to come out of the church building as he was leading worship. The church members defended him, telling the extremists not to disturb the pastor. Refusing to leave the church premises, the intolerant Hindus shouted that all Christians should leave the area, that “there is no place for Christians.” Nearby residents came out and, defending the pastor, chased the extremists away.

Karnataka – Police on March 9 registered a charge of forced conversion against a Christian couple based on false complaint by Nitin Poojary at Urwa police station in Mangalore. The Global Council of Indian Christians reported that Poojary’s Christian employer, Julian Lobo, reprimanded him after Poojary failed to show up for work without notice at a juice center near Kankanady. Poojary subsequently accused Lobo of inviting him to a house in Ashok Nagar and trying to force him to convert to Christianity; he further claimed that upon refusing, he was stripped and assaulted. Later, with the assistance of members of the Hindu extremist Bajrang Dal, Poojary registered the police case. Mangalore-based news portal Daijiworld reported that Congress Party leader Ivan D’Souza, along with other Christian representatives, submitted a memorandum to Police Commissioner Seemanth Kumar Singh on March 10 asserting Lobo’s innocence, stating that the allegations against him were completely fabricated. D’Souza also alleged that Bajrang Dal activists grossly misrepresented an otherwise simple conflict and demanded strict action against the responsible leaders of the Hindu extremist group.

Karnataka – Police on March 6 arrested two pastors after Hindu extremists from the Bajrang Dal stormed their house church worship in Gubbi, Tumkur district. They ransacked the site, destroying all Christian literature. A Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) representative told Compass that nearly 50 extremists barged into the church as guest preacher Mathew Munireddy of the Indian Pentecostal Church was speaking and abused him, pushing Pastor Jose Narayan aside when he attempted to protect him. The extremists continued the attack for nearly an hour, after which police arrived at the site and arrested Munireddy and Narayan. Police charged them with “deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings or any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs.” With GCIC intervention, they were released on bail on March 7.

Andhra Pradesh – On March 5 in Chintoor, Khammam, Hindu extremists prevented a group of Koya tribal Christians from burying one of their dead in the local Christian cemetery and attacked them. The All India Christian Council reported that Hindu extremists stopped the burial service of the unidentified follower of Christ and started beating about 20 Christians who were attending the funeral service, threatening to harm them if they reported the matter to the police. Three Christians, including one woman, were badly bruised. Local Christian leaders reported the matter to the police. The Christians were obligated to reach an agreement with the extremists, and under pressure they cremated the body.

Kashmir – Hindu extremists on Feb. 19 burned a Christian school, damaging eight classrooms in Srinagar. The Evangelical Fellowship of India reported that St. Paul’s International School, which belongs to the Evangelical Graduate Fellowship, was set ablaze at about 10:30 p.m. The culprits set a fire to the three-storey building that burned down eight rooms, including classrooms, the library and computers rooms. The principal of the grade 1-to-10 school, Grace Paljor, reported that prior to this incident, she has been verbally threatened for being a Christian a number of times. Estimates of damage were about 6 million rupees (US$132,000), Paljor said. Police registered a First Information Report, but no arrests had been made at press time.

Karnataka – Police on Feb. 17 detained 50 Christians after they staged a protest against a Hindu extremist attack on a statue of Jesus and Mary in Kammanahali, Bangalore. The All India Christian Council reported that the extremists gathered on the church premises, verbally abused the Christians and damaged the shrine. The Christians filed a police complaint, but to their surprise, police arrested 50 Christians. The detained Christians were later released without charges after local Christian leader’s intervention.