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02/09/2021 India (International Christian Concern) – In Late-January, seven Christian families from northeast India were displaced from their village after refusing to recant their Christian faith. The displacement was the culmination of months of tensions that had been building after the Christian families constructed a small building to conduct worship services in the village.

Approximately two years ago, seven families from Padmpur village, located in India’s Odisha state, converted to Christianity. For years there were no objections to the seven families’ new found faith. However, tensions between the Christians and other villagers began to escalate after the Christians built a small house where they would gather for worship in October 2020.

After the construction of the worship center, villagers accused the Christians of abandoning the traditional faith of the village and demanded the families renounce their Christian faith. As punishment, the seven families were disqualified from receiving government benefits set aside for local villagers and other community resources.

On December 12, 2020, the seven Christian families were called to a village meeting where they were told they must renounce their Christian faith. When the Christians refused, they were beaten and given one month to renounce their faith or be banished from the village.

On January 25, 2021, the seven Christian families were again summoned to a village meeting. At this meeting, villagers shouted at the Christians and brutally assaulted them. Sambhra Pangi, Sanaa Pangi, Mutai Khila, and Deo Pangi were all seriously injured as a result of the January 25 assault.

Following this assault, the seven Christian families left Padmpur village and have taken shelter in a nearby village. In this new village the families have received shelter from other Christians.

A local pastor reported the January 25 assault to the Malkangiri Police Station. As a result, police arrested six individuals involved in the assault.

However, the seven Christian families remain displaced. Local villagers will not allow the seven Christian families to return until they drop the charges that have been brought against the six individuals involved in the January 25 assault.

For interviews please contact Alison Garcia at [email protected].