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India Briefs: Recent Incidents of Persecution
ICC Note
Persecution of Christians has continued over different parts of India.India prides itself as “the world’s largest democracy” but Christians face persecution at the hands of radical Hindus and the police.
09/30/2011 India (CDN)-Police charged eight Christians with “promoting enmity” under Section 153 (A) of the Indian Penal Court after Hindu extremist Adepu Venugopal filed a complaint against them of forceful conversion on Sept. 23 in Karimnagar district. The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) reported that the Christians of Brethren Church in Kerala came to proclaim Christ in some villages after obtaining permission from the Karimnagar superintendent of police. While they were preaching in Donoor and Dharmapuri villages, the Hindu extremist mob suddenly surrounded them and then filed the complaint of forceful conversion, GCIC reported. The extremists took the Christians to the police station, and the Christians were charged with “promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion,” according to GCIC. The Christians were sent to jail; area Christian leaders were taking steps to obtain bail for them.
Andhra Pradesh – On Sept. 21 in Girmapura, Hindu extremists accused a Christian identified only as Pastor Steven of forceful conversion and verbally abused him for his faith. The All India Christian Council (AICC) reported that the extremists, led by one identified only as Mallareddy, forcefully entered the prayer meeting at the house of a woman identified only as Padma and verbally abused the pastor for his faith. The woman defended the pastor, saying that it was her right to choose to worship God. Several of the Christians who met for prayer then went to the village head, Raghupati Reddy, to file a complaint. He refused to help the Christians, however, as his term was to end four days later. AICC reported that he preferred to stay clear of any controversies and hence did not want to get involved, though he did blame the Christians for disrupting peace in the village.
Chhattisgarh – In Khandari Kona, Shankargarh, Surguya, Hindu extremists led by Ambuj Yadav on Sept. 18 attacked pastor Vishwanath Tirkey and another church member as they were returning home from a prayer meeting. Pastor Mukti Lakra told Compass that at about 6 p.m. the Hindu extremists stopped and suddenly attacked the two Christians, asking them why they dared come back after the extremists had beaten them and ordered them not to visit the area again. The extremists called police, but officers released the Christians without charges after questioning. Police summoned Pastor Tirkey and 20 church members, however, for questioning the next day. “The police in charge told us not to conduct worship meetings during daytime, and he also falsely accused us of going around converting people,” Pastor Tirkey told Compass. No police report, however, was filed by either party.
Tamil Nadu – Police warned pastor S. Arputharaj of Jesus Comfort Assembly not to conduct further worship meetings after a doctor with the Hindu extremist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh filed a complaint against him in Erode, Appakudal on Sept. 18. The All India Christian Council (AICC) reported that a doctor identified only as Varatharajan, who runs a clinic near the pastor’s church, and a local official identified only as Thasildar, convinced police to take action against the pastor. The sub-inspector of police asked the pastor to sign a letter stating that he would no longer conduct worship services in the church building. After the intervention of representatives of the AICC and the area pastors’ association, the pastor was allowed to lead the usual Sunday worship services under police protection, Moses Vattipalli of AICC told Compass.
Karnataka – On Sept.18 in Mallikoppa, Chickmagalur, suspected Hindu extremists set fire to a pastor’s motorbike and broke the windows and doors of his church building. The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) reported that the Hindu extremists attacked Immanuel Church while pastor C.S. Varghese was away from his home with his family. A small orphanage is located near the church, and children and those minding them came out after hearing the noise; they saw the fire and woke up villagers, who put out the blaze, according to GCIC. The assailants escaped. The villagers also informed the N.R. Pura police station about the incident, and an investigation was continuing at press time.
Karnataka – In Athani, Belgaum, Hindu extremists on Sept. 16 stopped a baptism service led by pastor Santosh V. Naganoor, manhandled him and accused him of forceful conversion. The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) reported that Pastor Naganoor, of House of Praise Church, was just about to begin the baptism of two women identified only as Muthavva and Rani in a canal when the Hindu extremists intruded. The extremists pushed the pastor and hurled verbal abuse at him as they accused him of forceful conversion, and then called police, according to the GCIC. Officers took Pastor Naganoor, guest speaker P.C. Joseph and six church members to the Khagaveri police station. After area Christian leaders’ intervention, the Christians were released without charges.
Karnataka – Police on Sept. 16 arrested Pastor Daniel Raghu after Hindu extremists accused him of forceful conversion in Arakalgud, Hassan district. The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) reported that Pastor Raghu, of New India Church, was conducting a prayer meeting in a Christian home when the extremists surrounded the house shouting anti-Christian slogans. The police arrived, questioned the pastor and later charged him with promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, according to the GCIC. The pastor appeared before a judge and was sent to Sakleshpur Sub-jail. After area Christian leaders’ intervention, he was released on bail on Sept 19.
Madhya Pradesh – Police along with Hindu extremists in Mainashree Colony, Dewas Railway Station on Sept. 12 disrupted a baptism service led by pastor Ramesh Manduwey and slapped a Christian. The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) reported that the policemen and extremists stormed into the house of Manish Tiwari, where about 20 Christians had gathered for the baptism, and questioned them. After the Christians told them they were carrying out a baptism service, the police and extremists became enraged and started verbally abusing them, with one extremist slapping Tiwari. Police arrested 15 Christians, including three pastors. On interrogation, the candidates for baptism said there was no case of forceful conversion as they had decided to be baptized of their own will. The officer and extremists tried to pressure the Christians to file a complaint of forceful conversion against Gospel for Asia’s Pastor Maduwey, but they refused, GCIC reported. The 15 Christians were later released without charges, but the three pastors were summoned to the police station the next day, where they were arrested under the state “Freedom of Religious Act” and sent to jail. They were released on bail on Sept. 19.
Karnataka – In Honnavar, Kanara, Hindu extremists on Sept. 7 beat two converts to Christianity, Bhasker Naik and Hemant Naik, warning them to convert back to Hinduism or face violence, sources said. The extremists dragged the two Christians to the Honnavar police station and accused them of forceful conversion when they refused to give up their faith in Christ. A police inspector identified only as Venkatappa and a sub-inspector identified only as Revathi charged them under Section 295 (A) of the Indian Penal Code with “deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings or any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs,” and a Honnavar judge sent them to the Honnavar Sub-jail. The Christians were released on bail on Sept. 9.
Chhattisgarh – Hindu extremists led by Ganga Ram on Sept. 5 barged into the Sunday worship meeting in Kanker of a house church led by Bhagat Lal, accused him of witchcraft, violence and disrupting the peace in the area and beat him and his wife. Pastor S.S. Jhali reported to Compass that the extremists entered the worship meeting and started accusing the Christians of being pagans as they beat them. Lal and his wife received treatment at Government Komaldev Hospital for their injuries. The Christians filed a police complaint, but no arrests had been made at press time.
Orissa – In Banapur, Khurda, Hindu extremists on Sept. 2 attacked a Christian couple after having beaten them in July for converting to Christ. The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) reported that Bangu Dei, mother of convert to Christianity Satyaban Nayak, instigated her nephew and villagers to attack her son and his family for their conversion from Hinduism. The incident took place when Dei found Nayak’s wife drawing water from the village well, and Dei and others began verbally abusing her. Later that day, Dei instigated Babula Nayak, Satyaban Nayak’s cousin, and other villagers to attack her son and his family. The extremists dragged the Christians to the village square and ordered them to give up Christianity. When the Christians refused to deny Christ, they manhandled them in the public square, pushing, kicking, beating them and demanding that they leave the area. During the hour-long attack, according to GCIC, the Christian couple continued to pray loudly, calling upon Christ to forgive their tormentors. Thereafter, the angry mob became quiet and started to disperse one by one, reported the GCIC. Babula Nayak asked the Christians for forgiveness, according to the GCIC, but Dei was still bent on harming them. Police organized a meeting in which the two parties agreed not to file any complaints. The GCIC provided first-aid and arranged for medical treatment, and the badly bruised Satyaban Nayak received hospital treatment.
Madhya Pradesh – In Khargone, the village head on Aug. 31 barged into a prayer meeting led by a pastor identified only as Wilson and accused him and others of forceful conversion. The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) reported that the village head later filed a police complaint against the Christians at Bhagwanpura police station, and officers summoned the pastor and the owner of the house where the prayer meeting took place; under police questioning, the owner said that no one had forced or otherwise fraudulently “lured” him to convert to Christianity, and that he had invited Pastor Wilson to lead the meeting at his home, the GCIC reported. The police released the pastor and the homeowner.
Madhya Pradesh – In Khamkheda, Khargone, Hindu extremists led by Gayatri Samaj on Aug. 31 stormed into a prayer meeting and ordered pastor Veersingh Kalesh of the Philadelphia Church to end it, according to the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC). One of the extremists called police, who later arrested the pastor. Villagers, however, blocked police and informed them that they should not arrest him, saying he was a good man who preached good news and displayed the power of God in a way that left people blessed, reported GCIC. Officers then took the pastor along with Samaj to Khamkheda police station. Pastor Veersingh informed the police that he was not converting anyone, but that people were blessed by the message of Jesus Christ. Police warned the pastor to not visit the village anymore and sent him away.
Karnataka – Karnataka police on Aug. 30 arrested four Pentecostal Christians in Puttur, Dakshina Kannada district, accusing them of trying to forcibly convert people from a Dalit colony in Nidle Boodujalu. The Christians were beaten before being arrested, reported the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC). Hindu extremist Praveen Boodujalu accused the Christians of door-to-door evangelizing, although such activity is legal in India. Some area Hindu extremists also said that the group, identified as 60-year-old Mary, her 30-year-old son Kunjimonu, his wife Lenny, 23, and B.T. Sainu, 34, went to some homes every Sunday for a month, bringing books to aid people in converting to Christianity, according to the GCIC.
Tamil Nadu – In Thurivarur district, Hindu extremists on Aug. 13 beat pastor Ramados Williams and his wife. The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) reported the extremists opposed the government’s declaration that the church land belonged to Pastor Williams, of Bethel Prayer House. Later that day, the enraged extremists demolished the church, destroyed the Christians’ two motorcycles, stole six bicycles, one camera and a cell phone and dragged Pastor Williams and some church members to the police station. The Christians were arrested under various sections of the Indian Penal Code and were sent to jail, the GCIC reported. They were released on bail on Aug. 19.