Wave of Persecution Hits Home for Christian Couple in Northern India

By ICC’s India Correspondent
A shine dedicated to Swami Laxmanananda sits within a walled area in Kandhamal, India. His murder triggered three months of violence against the minority Christian population in the area. Kandhamal, Odisha, India. 2018. Photo: John Fredricks
A shine dedicated to Swami Laxmanananda sits within a walled area in Kandhamal, India. His murder triggered three months of violence against the minority Christian population in the area. Kandhamal, Odisha, India. 2018. Photo: John Fredricks

09/17/2021 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) – “I was broken when I received the phone call that let me know my husband was in jail,” Nuri Manji told International Christian Concern (ICC). Nuri’s husband, Pastor Raju Manji, is among the dozens of Christians in India’s Uttar Pradesh state that have been arrested on false accusations of forced conversion since late-June.

The arrest took place on September 7 as her husband led a prayer gathering in the Azamgarh district of Uttar Pradesh. A mob of radical Hindu nationalists attacked the gathering, brutally thrashing both her husband and the 25 Christians who gathered for prayers.

Following the assault, Nuri’s husband was arrested by police and accused of violating Uttar Pradesh’s anti-conversion law. Nuri’s husband, and another congregant, were later sent to Azamgarh district jail.

I was hundreds of miles away in my hometown in West Bengal when I received the news that my husband was arrested,” Nuri told ICC. “Being physically far away, so much went through my mind, including whether I would ever see my husband again.

For the last 13 years, the Azamgarh district was very fruitful for our ministry,” Nuri continued. “We lead eight to 10 congregations in different villages and regular worship takes place in all of these villages. I have seen God working in the lives of people and people testify they have been healed through prayers.

Speaking about the attack on her husband and his arrest, Nuri explained how she is struggling.

I immediately rushed to Uttar Pradesh as soon as I heard about the incident,” Nuri said. “The first thing I wanted to do was to meet my husband and talk to him. Unfortunately, I was not allowed to do that due to the COVID restrictions in place.

It is a very difficult situation,” Nuri continued. “The congregation and I are in tears praying for my husband and Pradeep Kumar to come out of the jail. We are anxiously waiting for God to do a miracle.

Nuri and her husband moved to Uttar Pradesh from West Bengal as church planters working with a ministry focused on disadvantaged communities. Since moving to Uttar Pradesh, they have seen their ministry flourish. However, that growth has also come with opposition and persecution.

In Uttar Pradesh, people in large numbers are embracing Jesus as they experience healings and deliverance,” Nuri explained. “Anti-Christian elements are not able to digest this fact, so they attack. They say, ‘This is a Hindu nation’ and do not allow anyone to convert from Hinduism to what they call a foreign religion.

How can you stop God?” Nuri questioned. “The transformation that is taking place is not because of men, it is because of the Lord. No matter what we do His ministry will not stop in this place.

Incidents like the one that led to Nuri’s husband’s arrest, unfortunately, have become common in Uttar Pradesh. Since late-June, a wave of persecution has swept across the state with radical Hindu nationalists attacking Christians and their places of worship with impunity.

ICC has documented at least 30 incidents of persecution against Christians in Uttar Pradesh as a part of this wave of persecution. In many of the incidents, radical Hindu nationalists use false accusations of forced conversion to justify their assaults and have pastors arrested. At least 71 pastors and other Christians have been taken into police custody since the end of June under similar circumstances.

For interviews, please contact: press@persecution.org.

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