Christians in India continue to be persecuted in India. To start 2013, Christians across India have been attacked constantly. Is persecution spreading? Will India be called upon to promote human rights, including the freedom of religion?
3/24/2013 India (Charisma News) – India ranks No. 31 on the 2013 World Watch List, a ranking of the 50 countries where living as a Christian is most difficult. The list is created annually by Open Doors International, a worldwide ministry to Christians who live under pressure because of their faith. Most Christians live openly without pressure in huge and diverse India, but anti-conversion laws are on the books of five states, and in pockets of the country nationalist Hindus routinely confront Christians with accusations that they are attempting to forcibly convert Hindus to Christianity. Here is a sampling of incidents during January and February.
Feb. 9 — Jordarsingh Changod, 34, a pastor associated with Philadelphia ministry in Nanpur, Alirajpur district, was attacked after a church service.
At about noon, when the church service had finished and most of the people had returned home, about 36 people arrived on 12 motorcycles. Changod, along with Pastor Ilamsingh Kanesh and two women, were in the church. The intruders barged in and asked, “If we bring a lame man here, can you heal him?”
Changod replied, “If you have faith, certainly God will heal him.” On hearing the answer, the intruders punched and kicked Changod and Kanesh and knocked Changod unconscious. Kanesh suffered minor injuries.
About 30 minutes later between 30 and 40 members of the church arrived, and the attackers fled. “Extremists mostly hit me on my face. It was bleeding near my eyebrow and there was blood behind my right ear,” Changod told World Watch Monitor. The church members took him to the hospital, and the next day filed a complaint with police.
Feb. 15 — Pastor Sharda Prasad and his wife visited a house church in Dola, Annupur district, where about 250 people had gathered. The meeting was disrupted by 15-16 Hindu fundamentalists, who shoved in and started manhandling the people.
“They questioned me as to from where I had come?” Prasad told World Watch Monitor. “When I answered them, they blamed me of forceful conversion and beat me with thin sticks.” He suffered bruises on his back and waist. The attackers also beat members of the congregation.
Police arrived about an hour later and broke up the assault. They took pastor and his wife to their home in Jhagraha village, Shahdol district. Prasad filed a complaint with police on Feb. 18.
Feb. 16 — Three evangelists meeting with potential converts in Sawalikeda village, Khalwa block, Khandwa district were arrested after a village mob dragged them to the police.
Pastor Ashok Nahar, 50, who runs the Maranatha Prayer Hall in Punjab, and Delhi residents Arjun Singh, 45, and Anand Kumar, 19, were guests in the home of a Christian woman, identified as Shakuntala. They were holding private prayer meetings in the home with Christian seekers on Feb. 15.
The next morning, about 100 villagers came to the home and accused the visitors of trying to convert others in the village. “Punching and kicking us, they dragged us to Khalwa police station,” about 1 kilometer away, Nahar said. The three men were released from jail on March 6.
Feb. 16 — Pastor Isaac Rajamani of Friends Missionary Prayer Band, along with an evangelist identified as Raju, was attacked while conducting a prayer meeting in Gulai village, Khandwa district. Members of the Bajrang Dal, a hardline Hindu group, caught hold of Isaac and Raju and severely assaulted them. They were later taken to Khalwa in the night, where members of the Hindu nationalist organization Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh also beat them.
Later they were handed over to the Police station at Khalwa, where they were charged under section 295A and held in Harsud Jail. They have not yet secured bail.
Feb. 18 — Pastor Iliyas Buck, 42; Hira Lal, 32; Vishram Korku, 22; and Sundar Rachiya, 18; were gathered for a prayer meeting at the residence of Hira Lal in Roshni, Khandwa district. At noon, about 70 members of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh disrupted the meeting and started to punch and kick the four Christians, Buck said. The four were dragged to the local police station, where they were interrogated under suspicion of “luring people to Christianity.” The police released the four at 9 p.m., and did not file charges against them.
Feb. 20 — Chants of “stop this conversion” greeted a seminar conducted by Pastor Jiyalal Maravi, 35, in Dumartola, Bajag village , in Dindori district. Maravi and four other pastors — Mannulal Rajdiwar, 68; Ebenezar, 41; Tirath Patta, 35; and Vimlendra Jhariya, 25 — had been invited with their teams from Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh. As people finished lunch, Rajdiwar noticed that about 15 men standing outside the house with sticks in their hands.
“They had blocked the way to the road from the house from both the sides and were shouting slogans ‘stop this conversion,’ ” Rajdiwar told World Watch Monitor. When police were summoned, they took the pastors in for questioning. They were released in the evening, and no charges were filed.