• Persecution Watch, December 8, 2014

    Church burned up in New Delhi

    A 12 year old church having more than thousand members was burned to ashes in the wee hours of December 1, with the total damaged estimated to be around 1.5 crores (2,45,000 USD) in Dilshad Garden, New Delhi.

    The fire destroyed furniture, statues, crosses, curtains, public address system, musical instrument, Bibles, and prayer books of the St. Sebastian church among other things. The fire department who reached the spot much later were not able to douse the strong fire.

    Speaking to EFI News, Father Mathew Koickal, Chancellor of Delhi Arch Diocese said "We think that this was the work of anti-social elements who are keen to create chaos and disharmony in the society".

    Inflammable objects were found at the church premises and church leaders claimed that it was not a case of short circuit as the electricity circuits were all-intact.

    The burning was followed by strong protests by the Christian community both on site at Dilshad garden in the form of a prayer vigil on December 1 and at the Police Headquarters in Delhi, where more than 5000 people turned up to register their concern and anguish. The protestors demanded a judicial enquiry into the matter.

    The state government, after the intervention of the Lt. Governor Najeeb Jung, has set up a Special Investigating Team (SIT) under the supervision of the Crime branch in response to the unprecedented protest by the Christian community in the national capital. The report of the SIT is awaited.

    An inter-religious candlelight prayer service was also organized on December 7, with more than 2000 people in attendance at the Sacred Heart Cathedral in New Delhi. Representatives from the Muslim, Sikh, Christian and other communities brought messages of solidarity and prayed for harmony in the society.

    Convent broken into, Church stoned in Delhi

    4 unidentified men broke into a Christian convent in Rohini on December 2, 2014, even as Christians protested the burning of the Church at Dilshad Garden, earlier during the day.

    The CCTV cameras of the convent recorded 4 unidentified men breaking into the convent at nighttime. A report has been filed at the local police station.

    Unidentified people pelted stones on the 'Our lady of Fatema Church' at Jasola, New Delhi on December 6. The stone pelting caused damage to the first floor windows of the Syro Malabar Church and took place around 6 pm while the evening mass was being held.

    Alerted by the stone pelting the Christians rushed out of the Church in alarm. Joseph, a member of the Church while speaking to the media said, "After Dilshad Garden church fire incident, we feel really threatened." The Archbishop Kuriakose Bharanikulangara of the Faridabad-Delhi Syro-Malabar Catholic Diocese said, "Though no-one has been injured, parishioners are anxious."

    A First Information Report was registered against unknown persons late in the night.

    Worship Meeting Stopped, Christians Beaten up in Chhattisgarh

    Hindu extremists stormed a Church service and beat up Christians in Rajnandgaon, Chhattisgarh on November 16, 2014 injuring at least one Christian seriously in the process. According to our correspondent Vincent Nag, the attackers were mostly cadres of the Bajrang Dal and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World council of Hindus).

    The incident took lace around 11 am on Sunday, November 16, as the attackers forcefully entered the Church and asked for Sunil Gottlieb who serves as the Pastor of the congregation. The Church members hid the Pastor out of fear, which further incited the attackers, who then attacked and beat up Church members, while shouting anti-Christian slogans.

    Honey Gottlieb, the son of Pastor Sunil Gottlieb, received grievous injuries on the head and had to be taken to the hospital for urgent medical care.

    "Most of the church congregation members, went to the police station, with bruises on their bodies and reported the matter to the police," Rev. Francis Nag, area church leader told EFI News.

    The police offered protection to the Christians and received their complaint promising to register a case against the assailants. However, no arrests have been made at press time.

    Church Attacked, Christians Injured in Tamil Nadu

    People belonging to extremist Hindu outfits stormed and disrupted the worship service of the Konkal Marthoma Church on November 16, at Udumalpet, Tamil Nadu.

    According to our correspondent, as the Christians prayed in a peaceful manner inside the Konkal Marthoma Church, a mob of about 100 people forcefully entered into the Church. They desecrated the holy altar, tore up Bibles, destroyed musical instruments and beat the congregation members.

    The Parish priest Fr. K.A Sathish, and evangelist Amrutha Raj sustained severe injuries during the attack and many members had to be taken to the nearby hospital for treatment. The attackers also attacked and attempted to destroy more than 20 vehicles that were parked outside the church.

    The assailants further threatened the Christians who were admitted in the hospital of dire consequences if they did not leave the area.

    Christian worker attacked and arrested in Madhya Pradesh

    State police arrested a Christian worker, C M Mathew from the Pentecostal Church in Indore, Madhya Pradesh on November 7, after Hindu extremists burst into a prayer meeting, accused Mathew of forceful conversion and then proceeded to file a police complaint against him.

    According to our Indore correspondent, the Hindu extremists who stormed the prayer meeting, also threw 30 cross necklaces inside the house while the pastor was praying in order to use the so called 'evidence' as a proof of forceful conversion.

    Shouting slogans, the Hindu extremists barged into the private home, threw the cross necklaces on the floor, and alleged that the pastor was trying to forcefully convert people to Christianity by making the people wear the cross necklaces. The Hindu extremists thereafter summoned the police.

    The police soon arrived and arrested the pastor and took him to the Chandan Nagar police station in Indore. After the intervention of Christian leaders from the area, the pastor was finally released on bail at around 11 pm, the same day.

    "The whole incident is pre-planned as some attackers testified before the police that the pastor was distributing crosses to them and asked them to wear it," area Christian leader, Ashish Randeva told EFI News.

    However, the area church leaders maintained that there was no case of forceful conversion and that the pastor was invited to a house warming celebration and no cross necklaces were distributed to anyone.

    Christians Arrested, Beaten up in Madhya Pradesh

    Christians in Sangli, Barwani were targeted in twin incidents resulting in Christians being arrested, beaten up, and admitted in hospital.

    On October 27, local Hindu extremists filed a police complaint against two Christian Pastors, Ashok Pratap and Kallu Rai Singh allegedly on false charges. The Pastors were arrested the same day and sent to central jail as per information from our correspondent in Bhopal.

    On November 2, the Sunday after the Pastors arrest, Hindu extremists stormed the Sunday worship service of their Church and beat up the Christians. Many in the congregation were hurt including women and children.

    According to report from various advocacy agencies, four Christians, two men and two women were admitted in the hospital with severe injuries while some members sustained bruises and abrasions on their bodies.

    A police complaint was submitted by the Christians, however, no arrests has been made at press time.

    Christians attacked in Karnataka

    Hindu extremists disrupted a prayer service and beat up Christians in Shimoga district, Karnataka on October 27, 2014.

    According to reports received, Hindu extremists broke into a private home at Ittigehalli, Shimoga, where the Christians were praying and started beating the Christians up. They also broke and destroyed household articles, Bibles, and other Christian literature.

    On 27 Oct, Hindu extremists attacked Christians while they were praying, destroyed household articles, literature, Bibles and beat them up at Ittigehalli Camp in Shimoga.

    An Appeal to the Authorities 

    As concerned people, kindly write to the Chief Ministers of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu along with the Prime Minister of India as well as Lt. Governor of Delhi, appealing them to safeguard the rights of the minority communities and to provide protection to churches against attacks and to take immediate action against the perpetrators of violence.

    Shri Narendra Modi
    Prime Minister's Office
    (Office address)
    152, South Block,
    Raisina Hill, New Delhi-110011
    (O) Tel :   +91 11 23012312 ; 23018939
    (O) Fax :  +91 11 23016857
    (Residence Address)
    7, Race Course Road, New Delhi-110001
    (R) Tel: +91 11 23011156 ; 23016060
    (R) Fax: +91 11 23018939

    Shri Najeeb Jung
    Lt.Governor of Delhi
    Block 6 Raj Niwas Marg,
    Civil Lines, New Delhi-110054
    (O) Tel:  +91 11 23962988 ; 23941458
    (O) Fax:  +91 11 23920225

    Shri O. Panneerselvam
    Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu
    Secretariat, Fort St. George, Chennai - 600009
    Email: cmcell@tn.gov.in
    (O) Tel:  +91 44 25672345
    (O) Fax:  +91 44 25671441
    (R) Tel:  +91 44 24670215

    Dr. Raman Singh
    Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh
    Chief Minister Niwas, Raipur
    Email: cm@cg.nic.in
    (O) Tel:  +91 771 2221000 ; 2221001 ; 2331001
    (O) Fax:  +91 771 2221306
    (R) Tel:   + 91 771 2331000

    Shri Shivraj Singh Chouhan
    Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh
    Email: cm@mp.nic.in
    (O) Tel:  +91 755 2441581 ; 2441033
    (O) Fax:  +91 755  2441781
    (R) Tel:  +91 755 2442231 ; 2735876

    Shri Siddaramaiah
    Chief Minister of Karnataka

    Vidhana Soudha,
    Bangalore - 560233
    Email: cm@kar.nic.in
    (O) Tel:  +91 080 22253414 ; 22253424 ; 22386514 ; 22092354
    (O) Fax: +91 080 22253115 ; 22253743 ; 22258150

    Issued By:
    Rev. Dr. Richard Howell,
    General Secretary
    Evangelical Fellowship of India
    New Delhi, India

    Evangelical Fellowship of India (established 1951) is a charter member of World Evangelical Alliance, an accredited NGO with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations