Indian Christians Endure at Least 25 Instances of Persecution Over Christmas Holiday
By ICC’s India Correspondent
01/17/2019 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – The 2018 Christmas season was discouraging and painful for many Christian communities across India, as International Christian Concern (ICC) documented at least 25 instances of persecution. In one instance, deadly weapons were used to break up a service honoring the birth of Jesus Christ.
In Lakhan Mau village, located in Uttar Pradesh state, a group of 50 Christians was attacked by a mob of Hindu radicals as they gathered to celebrate Christmas. Local Christians report that the mob was comprised of as many as 200 radicals carrying clubs and iron rods. The two pastors leading the group in worship, Pastor Ashok Massih and Pastor Rajeev Kumar, were targeted by the mob, dragged to an open place, and beaten. Later, the pastors were brought to the local police station where they were arrested after the mob accused them of committing blasphemy.
“The image of the cross captured my mind as the blood was flowing from my nose and my mouth,” Pastor Rajeev told ICC. “It was horrible as [the] mob dragged me out into the open place.”
Following the attack, police have restricted prayer meetings in the village. No other Christian services have been held since the attack.
The New Life Fellowship Church of Kowad village, located in Maharashtra state, faced a similar incident this Christmas season. On the Sunday before Christmas, December 23, the congregation was attacked by a group of masked men during their regular Sunday worship service.
The assailants barged into the church carrying knives, swords, and beer bottles. They brutally attacked the gathering of believers, leaving some members of New Life Fellowship Church so severely injured that they required surgery for their wounds.
Pastor Bhinset Chowan, who has faithfully led New Life Fellowship Church for the past 17 years, told ICC that he used to rent a building for church services. Now, following the attack, the landlord has evicted the congregation due to pressure from local radicals.
ICC identified at least 23 other major incidents of Christian persecution over the course of the Christmas season in India. According to Pastor Sunil Pratap, a pastor from the Ghaziabad region near Delhi, the majority of churches cancelled any outdoor activities in association with Christmas to avoid hostility. Pastors across India were forced to reduce their public activities this year due to the increased attacks on Christians in the months leading up to Christmas.
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