11/19/2021 India (International Christian Concern) – According to local sources, the local administration of the Jhabua District, located in India’s Madhya Pradesh state, has imposed a ban of Christian religious gatherings. A circular was distributed among district authorities banning Christian gathering at the behest of the VHP and other radical Hindu nationalist groups.
As a result of the circular, more than 50 house churches in the Jhabua district were not allowed to gather for worship last Sunday, November 14. Local Christians are concern they will not longer be allowed to exercise their religious freedom rights, guaranteed to them by India’s constitution.
“I read the circular last Friday and decided not to have worship on Sunday,” a local pastor, whose name is being withheld for security reasons, told International Christian Concern (ICC). “The last five months have been difficult. Our congregation has been reduced from 40 members to 15. Even these 15 are now scared.”
“I know as a pastor that I need to endure hardships and persecution for my faith,” the pastor continued. “But I am worried about those who are showing interest and coming newly to worship with us.”
On November 11, the Sub-Divisional Officer issued a circular to police stations in the Thandla and Megnagar blocks of Jhabua. This circular declared a complete ban on Christian gatherings that do not have permission from the local magistrate. The circular soon went viral on social media, causing many Christians to cancel worship services.
In recent months, local authorities sent out notices to Christian leaders in the Jhabua District demanding they show evidence of their legal conversion to Christianity. The recent circular and previous demands have many Christians in the Jhabua District concerned that the government is acting on the behest of radical Hindu nationalist groups.
In response to the circular, more than 300 pastors and Christian leaders met with authorities and submitted a memorandum to defuse the situation. The delegation requested the fair treatment of all communities in the district, including the Christian minority.
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