Compass Direct News gives a briefing on the extensive amount of persecution targeting Indian Christians in July and August.
8/17/2011 India (Compass Direct News) – After receiving a letter from Hindu extremists demanding the closure of Grace Church in Dhamtari, district government officials on Aug. 6 stopped the church’s worship service, warning those present that they could be attacked if they continued to hold services in the area. The Global Council of Indian Christians reported that the officials warned that if there is anymore Christian worship at Grace Church, the Christians would be responsible for any subsequent rioting. The church, led by Pastor Rohit Sahu, discontinued meeting, but area Christian leaders are taking steps to solve the matter.
Andhra Pradesh – In Ramagundam, Karimnagar, police on Aug. 3 arrested a pastor, five of his evangelistic team members and a local bystander after Hindu extremists filed a complaint against them of forceful conversion. All India Christian Council representative Moses Vattipalli told Compass that the Christian team was on an evangelistic outreach that included scrawling Bible verses on the rocks of a hill near a Hindu temple when the extremists appeared and began verbally abusing them, took their cell phones and beat them. The assailants forced the Christians to erase the Scripture verses and manhandled an onlooker who had been reading them, according to Vattipalli. Six Christians and the bystander were charged with promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion and were sent to the district sub-jail of Karimnagar, he said, adding that they were released on bail after two days.
Uttarakhand – A mob of about 300 Hindu extremists in Makhdoompur on July 31 beat Christians at a church service and accused Pastor Bachan Singh of forceful conversion. The All India Christian Council (AICC) reported that as the church was about to take the Lord’s Supper, a large mob of Hindu extremists gathered, accusing the congregation of forceful conversion. Those the extremists beat included women and children as the extremists demanded that the Christians stop all church activities, according to the AICC. Local police arrived after about 25 minutes and stopped the commotion, and no one was seriously hurt.
Chhattisgarh – Police in Bilaspur, Kawardha district on July 29 arrested Pastor Diwarkar Kumar after an attorney along with Hindu extremists filed a complaint against him of forceful conversion. A source told Compass that on July 28 Rani Matle visited a lawyer for help in submitting a legal request to the church stating her wish to attend a seminary. Another lawyer, Naval Kishore Pandey, learned that Believers’ Church Pastor Diwaker Kumar had advised her to do so and contacted a local Hindu extremist group, which filed a complaint against Kumar of forceful conversion. Subsequently police took Kumar and Matle into custody for questioning, the source said. Matle told police that there was no forceful conversion and stated that she willingly chose to follow Christ, and police released the pastor without charges. The next day, however, police summoned Kumar, Matle and her father to the station and forced Bharat Matle to sign a First Information Report (FIR) against Kumar “for deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings or any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs,” the source said. The FIR also cited sections 3 and 4 of the Chhattisgarh law outlawing forcible and fraudulent conversion. The pastor was sent to Pandariya Jail and was released on bail on Aug. 5.
Madhya Pradesh – Hindu extremists in Dewihar, Bajna, Ratlam on July 15 barged into a prayer meeting conducted by a Christian convert from Hinduism, damaging a roof and ransacking the house, stealing 20,000 rupees (US$440), some silver and five kilograms of corn. The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) reported that they entered Suresh Maida’s house and verbally abused those at the gathering for their faith in Christ. The Christians filed a police complaint, according to GCIC, but at press time police had made no arrests.
Uttar Pradesh – Police in Katra Divan Kheda, Dhagpur, Unnoa on July 14 arrested pastors Om Prakash, Ganga Prasad, Premshankar, Desh Kumar and one identified only as Vinod of the New India Church of God for leading a prayer meeting in Prakash’s home. The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) reported that the Hindu radicals ordered Prakash and his family to give up their faith in Christ and stop the services in their home. Police along with the Hindu extremists had earlier threatened Prakash’s wife, Uma, and her three grown daughters if they continued in their faith, according to the GCIC. The church subsequently stopped Christian activities in the area.
Orissa – Hindu extremists in Banapur, Khurda, on July 8 harassed a Christian family for their conversion from Hinduism to Christ, ending in a Hindu woman beating her Christian daughter-in-law. The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) reported that after Satyaban Nayak and his family began to trust Christ as Lord and Savior and were healed from physical ills, Nayak’s mother strongly opposed her son’s worship of Christ and warned him to either forsake Christianity or be deprived of his birthright; she also told him she might commit suicide if he and his family did not deny Christ. When this failed, according to the GCIC, she planned a village meeting or “panchayat” with area hard-line Hindus so that the community would pressure him into forsaking his faith, but the village head questioned him and his wife about their faith in Christ and found them guilty of no wrongdoing. Nayak’s mother took a firewood log from a burning furnace and began beating her daughter-in-law in front of the crowd, cursing and verbally abusing her, knocking her to the ground as the extremists demanded the family’s expulsion from the village, the GCIC reported, adding that Nayak’s wife, Sarojini, continued to pray and praise the Lord amid the beatings. As her mother-in-law continued to deal her painful blows, Sarojini prayed louder, praising God with calls of “Halleluiah” and asking forgiveness for her, according to the GCIC. The village head and some villagers rescued the Christians.