Christians in India’s Uttar Pradesh State Endure Rising Number of Persecution Incidents
02/15/2019 India (International Christian Concern) – Christians living in India’s Uttar Pradesh state have reported an increased number of persecution incidents in the past two month. In 2018, International Christian Concern (ICC) verified 114 incidents of persecution against Christians in Uttar Pradesh, making it the most persecuted state in India. That trend seems to have continued into the new year.
On February 7, 50 Christians gathered for a prayer meeting were brutally attacked by religious extremists in Chattar village, located in the Sultanpur district of Uttar Pradesh. As a result, six Christians were seriously injured and rushed to the Sultanpur hospital, nearly 20 miles from Chattar village.
According to Pastor Omprakash, a mob 25 suspected Bajrang Dal activists forced themselves into the Christian home where the Christians had gathered for a special prayer meeting. “We were all frightened as they came in with wooden clubs and started beating everyone in the congregation,” Pastor Omprakash told ICC. “I alerted the congregation as I sensed the trouble and told the congregation not to retaliate.”
“Soon the blood started spilling over from the injuries sustained in the attack,” Pastor Omprakash added. “There was no way that we could avoid this brutality. However, I was comforted by the scriptures as I contemplated about the suffering during end times.”
On February 3, only days before the attack on the Christian community in Chattar, police disrupted a worship service in the Jaunpur district of Uttar Pradesh where over 400 Christians had gathered.
“We were halfway through the service, at around noon, when the police reached the church and told us that we cannot continue,” Pastor Bharat Massih, head pastor of Pavitra Parmeshwar Yeshu Dham, told ICC. “They asked if I had permission to run the church. They insisted that I go to the police station. However, I refused to go to the police station because a local BJP leader, Mr. Tiwary, has influence over the police.”
“We continued the worship service with several interruptions by the police and had to conclude the service and meet the district level police,” Pastor Massih continued. “I showed them all the papers I had.”
“I have been serving the Lord as a pastor for 18 years in this place,” Pastor Massih told ICC. In those 18 years, Pastor Massih reports his ministry had never been harassed by local police. “The first time I had to close my church due to the police harassment about permission was in January of this year. I now have a High Court interim order to run the church.”
On February 14, also in the Jaunpur district, a local revenue department with police similarly harassed Pastor Nanhelal in Rakhva village on the same issue of requiring permission to run a church.
Uttar Pradesh continues to be difficult place for Christians trying to practice their faith. In January alone, ICC has documented 18 incidents of persecution.
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