Church Vandalized, Statues Damaged in Uttar Pradesh
In the wee hours of April 16, unidentified miscreants damaged four statues of Mother Mary and wrapped a dog chain around one of the broken statues in Pratabpura, Rakabganj, Agra, the city of the Taj Mahal.
According to our correspondent in Agra, the attack against the 90 year old St. Mary’s Church took place at about 3:30 a.m. when the head priest of the church, Father Moon Lazarus was awakened by the car’s alarm going off after the car was damaged.
“When I came out from my room, I found all four doors of the car open and the wind-screen was smashed but the intruders have fled by then” Father Lazarus told EFI News.
Thereafter, Father Lazarus along with another priest found the damaged statues of Mother Mary, baby Jesus statue and the glass case broken.
“The attackers intended to hurt our religious sentiments as they placed the head of child Jesus Christ in the hand of Mother Mary and attached a dog chain to the neck.” Father Lazarus said.
The incident comes barely weeks after a 71 year old nun was raped in a convent in West Bengal, a case that not only shocked the Christian community but the nation and triggered widespread protests.
The area police officials including the senior superintendent of police Rajesh D Modak visited the church premises and assured action against the culprits
Later that evening, the area Christian community held a protest march, expressing their grievance towards the incident.
Christians Repeatedly Attacked in Uttar Pradesh
Hindu extremists forced Christians to move out from their church after they repeatedly attacked them and blocked Good Friday Service.
The latest incident took place on April 12 when some church members from Salvation for Asia Church gathered at one site when the extremists started to beat them up.
“Some Christians were simply standing near the church premises which we have recently vacated when the Bajrang Dal came and beat them up.” Local Pastor Daniel Singh told EFI News.
The believers ran to the police station, however, the police refused to take any action, reported our correspondent in Lucknow.
Pastor Daniel Singh rented a land where he built a church structure for Salvation for Asia Church. About 1000 people used to gather for every meeting. However, the Hindu fundamentalist objected the thriving ministry of Pastor Singh, told him to vacate the church premises and filed a complaint against him to the police and the district authorities on March 28.
Thereafter, under the pressure of the Hindu extremists, the district officials and the landlord told Pastor Singh to vacate the premises as soon as possible. The extremists further threatened that they will burn up the church if the Christians continue to conduct worship meetings. “The local BJP leader even threatened to terminate the job of one of our church members if he again joins our meeting” Pastor Singh said.
Subsequently, the authorities forbade Pastor Singh to conduct any service on Good Friday (April 3) and once again told him to vacate the land as soon as possible on April 8.
Salvation for Asia Church has two more years to conduct worship meeting at the site according to the lease deed they made with the landlord.
Kindly pray that God will give Pastor Singh and the church members a good place to worship.
Pastors Meeting Attacked; Four Injured in Telangana
A mob of Hindu extremists shouting Hindu slogans stormed a Gospel Meeting, damaged furniture, electrical lights and beat up the Christians which resulted in four pastors sustaining serious injuries on April 8 in Pebbair, Mahabubnagar, Telangana.
Shouting “Jai Shri Ram,” armed extremists forcefully entered into the last day of the gospel meeting of the lower caste pastors, accused them of forceful conversion, started to beat them up with sticks and threatened to stab them with knives, according to our correspondent.
“The extremists verbally abused the Christians, accused them of forceful conversion and indiscriminately beat up everyone including one pregnant woman, children and aged people,” area church leader Pastor Paul told EFI News.
Four pastors received serious injuries. Pastor Sudhakar’s left leg was broken and his body was blue and black from the beating, Pastor Pratap received severe cut on his upper lips, Pastor Timothy’s hands were fractured and Pastor Yesu Tidam’s hands were also fractured besides of all them sustaining abrasions all over their body.
The police registered a case against five attackers only after the state home minister instructed them to make the arrests, reported our correspondent.
Kindly pray for the pastors who are still recovering from their injuries.
Easter Sunday Service attacked in Telangana
Hindu extremists attacked Easter Sunday Meeting (April 5,) hoisted saffron flags inside church premises and harassed a pastor in Makthal Mandhal, Mahbubnagar.
According to our correspondent in Telangana, Pastor Christopher Meesaul and members of Bethel Church found two saffron flags tied at one of the poles inside the premises when they returned from a Sunrise Service at about 8:30 a.m.
Subsequently, the Christians took off the flag as it is an illegal encroachment of the church premises. However, at about 9:30 a.m, Hindu extremists massed up near the church and questioned the pastor about the removal of the flag, verbally abused the pastor and tied a new saffron flag on one pole inside the church premises.
The extremists further falsely accused the pastor of throwing the flag into the naala (drain) after the extremists threw the flag in a drain and thereafter took picture of the same.
Thereafter, at about 11:00 a.m, the extremists continued to disturb the worship service as they swelled up near the church, yelled at the pastor to stop the service and told him to meet the local Hindu leaders at the temple.
The pastor stopped the meeting and proceeded to meet the Hindu leaders at the temple. “The extremists pushed, slapped and kicked me as they took me to the temple while they continued to hurl verbal abuse against my faith,” Pastor Meesual told EFI News.
At the temple, the Hindu leaders were sitting in circle and the pastor was forced to sit in the middle of the circle while the Hindu extremists continued to mocked and verbally abused him.
Thereafter, the police officials arrived at the spot, rescued the pastor and let him resume the church service.
However, apparently motivated by the Hindu extremists, the police later summoned Pastor Meesual where he was forced to make a compromise with the extremists’ demand of moving back the front side of the church from the road by three feet.
Pray for peace and religious tolerance in Telangana.
Rev. Dr. Richard Howell,
Evangelical Fellowship of India
New Delhi, India