Christian Persecution Spikes in India’s Karnataka State as Elections Near

By ICC’s India Representative

02/18/2018 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) – Anti-forced conversion laws are a source of tremendous grief for Christians in India. In the hands of Hindu radicals, these laws often provide legal justification for radicals looking to harm any Christian they encounter.

The sad reality played out last month for Christian leaders in the poll-bound state of Karnataka. In three separate incidents in January, pastors were brutally beaten and their churches vandalized by radicals claiming they were punishing individuals engaged in forced conversions.

Pastor Lukas John was one of the victimized pastors. He was brutally beaten by Hindu radicals in Hongadahalla on January 25 .  “I remembered the cross of Jesus and his suffering as I was surrounded by seven people,” Pastor John said. “They beat me blue and black.

Located over 150 miles west of Bengaluru, the capital of Karnataka, Hongadahalla became a scene of torture for Pastor John. “I was tortured from 4 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.,” Pastor John said. “First at the hands of Hindu radicals in the village and then by the police at the police station.

The Hindu radicals caught hold of me and Subramani when we were passing through the market returning home,” Pastor John recalled. “We had been praying for Subramani and his family. They had professed faith in Jesus after experiencing a miraculous healing.

We were ruthlessly beaten up by seven people,” Pastor John continued. “They punched us all over the body and they kicked us. The torture went on for more than two hours until the police arrived at the scene. They also snatched all the literature and Bibles and burned them.

As they were beating the two Christians, the radicals told Pastor John and Subramani that they were following a foreign religion and accused them of engaging in forced conversions.

We were handed over to the police,” Pastor John said. “The police started to harass us as we drove in the police jeep. As we were passing a Hindu temple, the constable told me to bow to it. When I refused, he took a jack that was in the vehicle and hit me on my head with it. I started to bleed. They then began twisting my hand. I told him that I was a heart patient, but he would not listen to me.

The persecution Pastor John and Subramani experienced is not uncommon in India. In many cases, Christian victims are taken into custody and falsely charged with crimes such as forced conversion and blasphemy.

Attacks on Christians often rise in number and intensity when elections take place. Politicians often use religiously divisive rhetoric for political gain which, in turn, sparks communal violence. This is likely the reason for the recent spike in attacks in Karnataka.

As the number of attacks on Christians and their places of worship continues to rise in India, it is important to remember our persecuted brothers and sisters. Please keep Karnataka’s Christians in your prayers as state elections near.

For interviews with William Stark, Regional Manager, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: press@persecution.org

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