Two Christian Pastors Attacked in Northeast India Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic
By ICC’s India Correspondent
06/10/2019 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – On May 9, Tirpan Oraon was brutally attacked by his younger brother, an attack reportedly instigated by radical Hindu nationalists. On May 31, another pastor was assaulted while distributing COVID-19 food relief. Both of the incidents occurred in Jharkhand, a state located in northeastern India, where Christians have faced increased hostility during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2005, Tirpan and his family converted to Christianity. Since then, the family has faced ever-increasing levels of harassment and persecution from local radicals. In a recent interview with International Christian Concern (ICC), Tirpan’s son, Parameswar, described the harassment against his family.
“We are kept away from any social events in the village,” Parameswar told ICC. “Numerous times, we were threatened and told that we should recant our faith in Jesus.”
“The village leaders also told us that by giving up the village gods, we don’t have a right to own the land that we farm,” Parameswar continued. “It has been a tough journey for the past fifteen years. This recent attack on my father is another attempt to pressure us into recanting our faith.”
After refusing to contribute money to a local Hindu festival, Tirpan was brutally beaten by his younger brother on May 9. As a result of the attack, Tirpan’s hip was severely injured.
“I have been struggling with pain for the last two months,” Tirpan told ICC. “I cannot get up on my own, sit, or even get to the toilet. The pain is increasing day by day.”
Despite this persecution, Tirpan and his family remain committed to their Christian faith.
“Although there are difficult circumstances created for us, we have inner peace and joy following Jesus,” Parameswar told ICC. “We will never look back and regret our decision to follow Jesus.”
On May 31, Pastor Jaiwant Tirkey, an independent pastor from New Hulhnda village, was also attacked by radical Hindu nationalists. According to Pastor Tirkey, the radicals accused him of violating the COVID-19 lockdown to justify their assault.
“We opened the church because we wanted to use the premises to prepare meals for migrant workers,” Pastor Tirkey told ICC. “I was there along with a few other volunteers preparing and serving breakfast when all of a sudden, a man with an iron rod kicked in the gate.”
“He was shouting and attacked me,” Pastor Tirkey continued. “I narrowly escaped a fatal blow to my head which would have landed between my upper jaw and ear.”
Historically, Jharkhand has been known as the graveyard of missions in India. Unfortunately, it seems that this reputation continues to have relevancy even amid the COVID-19 pandemic.