EFI News October 2015
The Evangelical Fellowship of India has recorded at least 23 verified incidents targeting the Christian community in the months of September – October 2015. This includes one person being killed by unidentified people in Jharkhand while other incidents like arrests on cooked up charges and attacks on individual Christians and worship services continued. At least one act of vandalism of a cemetery was reported from Karnataka.
Most of the incidents came from the central Indian states of Madhya Pradesh (11 incidents) and Chhattisgarh (5 incidents). Jharkhand reported two incidents, Delhi, one; Uttar Pradesh, one, Punjab, one; Gujarat, one and Karnataka reported one incident.
Majority of the incidents centered on the tribal belts of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand with tribal Christians bearing the brunt of most of the violence.
These incidents of hate crime and violence against the Christian minority are at best a partial indicator of the situation of Christians in the country for many incidents are not even reported. The Evangelical Fellowship of India urges the central government and the respective state governments to look into these incidents and take steps to check the hate and ensure justice and protection for the minority community.
Christian Cemetery Vandalised in Belgaum, Karnataka
Vandalised Cemetery in Belgaum, Karnataka September 7, 2015: A cemetery in Belgaum of Karnataka was found vandalized on September 7, 2015 when a group of people went to bury their dead. According to reports in the media, the vandals have uprooted more than a dozen crosses, broke up some gravestones and dig up some graves. The incident happened at Bharatnagar of Shahapur area, which is about 2kms from Belgaum city.
Three Christians including two pastors jailed at Jagdalpur, Chhattisgarh
September 8, 2015: Three Christians including two pastors are in jail in Jagdalpur, Bastar district since September 8, 2015. Pastor Loknath Baghel, Pastor Suddu Baghel, and Tikaram Netam of Barpaguda village of Bastar district were arrested after they opposed the takeover of their village land. The land in question has been used as a graveyard in the past and now has been marked by the government authorities that want to develop a pond there. A FIR was filed against the Pastors when the villagers opposed the takeover of land. The sessions court has rejected the bail application for the Pastors twice.
Church members brutally attacked by Hindu extremists at Bastar, Chhattisgarh
September 8, 2015: Christian villagers in Karmari village, district Bastar, Chhattisgarh were brutally attacked by Hindu extremists following the passing of a resolution in the village banning all non-Hindu religious activities. A mob of over 50 Hindu radicals gathered and surrounded a Church building around 4 pm on September 8, 2015. Before any of the Christians could even ask what was happening, the radicals attacked, assaulting Christians with wooden clubs and sticks. When some women from the Church confronted the radicals, they too were brutally beaten with wooden clubs and fists. Two Christian women, Pulo Bhai and Ludri were seriously injured in the assault and lost consciousness. As Christians in Karmari village face a social boycott, life has become very difficult for them.
House Church Service stopped at Palian Kalan, Lakhimpur Kheri, Uttar Pradesh
September 13, 2015 : Pastor Durgesh Yadav of Palian Kalan, Lakhimpur Kheri district, Uttar Pradesh was threatened by a mob of around 200-250 people led by local RSS and BJP leaders during Sunday worship service on 13 September 2015 at 11:00 am. The mob wanted him to stop conducting worship in the area. The house Church of about 100 members has stopped worship as of now because of the threats received. Pastor Yadav has filed a complained to the Palia Kalan police station but the police have not yet lodged the FIR against the local leaders.
Pastor and wife detained and interrogated by Police alleging force conversions at Chandia, Umaria, Madhya Pradesh
September 18, 2015: Pastor Gaya Prasad Dharwiya and his wife, from Shahdol district, Madhya Pradesh were apprehended and threatened by a local RSS leader who was accompanied by the police. The Pastor and his wife were returning from a friend’s house at Chandia town of Umria District, Madhya Pradesh. The RSS leader and the policemen forcibly took the couple to the Chandia Police Station without assigning any reason and detained them there for more than eleven hours before letting them go late in the night. The Superintendent of Police, Umria District ordered Pastor Dharviya and his wife to be present at the Chandia Police Station next morning at 10:00AM.
Christians Beaten Up, Chased Out from Home in Chhattisgarh
September 22, 2015: In Kongud, Kondagoan, Chhatisgarh, Hindu extremists beat up two Christian siblings after they refused to renounce Christ. The extremists summoned Mankuram Singh and his brother to a Hindu temple and asked them to renounce Christ However, the Christians refused and the mob thereafter started to beat them up, accused them of being involved in forceful conversions and proceeded to vandalize their home. The attackers later locked up their home and chased them out of the village. The brothers submitted a police complaint with the help of area Christian leaders, but the police did not register a case against the attackers and the extremists are threatening to harm them if they do not withdraw their complaint.
Delhi, Pastor threatened to stop Church service
September 27, 2015: September 27, 2015: Pastor Pradeep Kumar in Matiala, Uttam Nagar, New Delhi was manhandled and threatened by some of his neighbors who were led by local Hindu extremists. The attackers wanted to stop the Sunday Church service that was going on.
Three Christians arrested for alleged forced conversions in Satna, Madhya Pradesh
October 3, 2015: Madhya Pradesh police arrested three evangelists accusing them of proselytizing and forced conversions. The arrest took place at a school located at Majhgawan, a small town in Satna district. The three Stephen Rajkumar, 40; Harilal 20; and Anil Kumar have been charged under the Madhya Pradesh freedom of religion act. The police also confiscated Bibles, books, CDs and projectors that were with them.
26 Christian Families threatened with boycott and ouster from the village at Betul, Madhya Pradesh
October 3, 2015: Suraj Sariyam, a Christian from Chattarpur, Ghoda Dongri, Betul district was threatened and harassed by local Hindu leader Kailash Sariyam alias Gabba on October 3, 2015. Gabba not only stopped Suraj from enter his own paddy field but also did not allow him to take water for next two days from the village river. The village has 26 Christian families. On October 5, 2015 the village council summoned all the Christian families for a hearing. Orders were also issued to the villagers to boycott all the Christian families. Villagers were told not to provide basic facilities like water etc. to the Christians. But due to police intervention the hearing could not take place. The Christians in the village are still getting threats from Hindu extremists and are living in danger.
Christian family pressured and threatened for Ghar Wapsi (re-conversion) at Satna, MP
October 5, 2015: A group of 15 Hindu extremists trespassed into the home of a Christian family at Motwa village in Satna district of Madhya Pradesh and threatened them. The extremists were pressurizing the family to do a ‘Ghar Wapsi’ (homecoming). This family had accepted Christianity 5 years ago. The extremists threatened the family and warned them not to partake in Christian worship service.
Pastor Arvinder Singh Pastor, his pregnant wife, and their 11-month-old baby beaten at Kapurthala, Punjab
October 8, 2015: Pastor Arvinder Singh and his family were brutally beaten up to the point of death by a mob that included his neighbours in Phagwara city of Kapurthala district, Punjab. Pastor Arvinder was hit with an iron object on his head, which made him unconscious for a couple of hours. His wife, who was seven months pregnant, was manhandled and struck many times over on her stomach by the mob. The couple’s 11-month baby boy was also thrown at pile of bricks, which caused him serious internal injuries. No FIR has been registered till date.
Pastor’s mother pelted with stones in Dahod, Gujarat
October 12, 2015: Dasudi Ben Bhuriya (58), mother of Pastor Rajesh Bhuriya was attacked and pelted with stones by 6-7 Hindu extremists, on October 12, at Bilwani village of Dahod district. She was admitted at the Bilwani hospital as a result of the attack for treatment of her injuries.
Pastor Shot Dead in Jharkhand
October 13, 2015: Pastor Chamu Hasda Purty of the Pentecostal Church at Sandih, Khunti district was killed as unidentified people opened gunfire at him after entering his house. The murder took place in the late evening of October 13. Pastor Chamu Hasda Purty was well respected and valued by the local community.
Christians summoned at Police station for questioning on false charges of Conversion at Betul, MP
October 17, 2015: Two Christians, Yuvraj and Kumar Singh were taken to the Bhimpur Police station in Betul district for questioning after local Hindu extremists complained against them alleging religious conversions. Christians have been gathering as a Church conducting regular Sunday worship at Bhimpur village for more than a year now but they are getting regular threats from local Hindu groups to close down the Church and move out of the village.
Christians detained at police station on the complaint of Bajrang Dal and VHP members in Rajnandgaon, Chhattisgarh
October 17, 2015: Members of Bajrang Dal attacked a prayer meeting near Rajnandgaon and beat up the preacher Dev Kumar Sahu on October 17, 2015. The meeting was held at the house of Mr. Lalit Sahu and about 50 Christians were in attendance when more than 20 armed members of the Bajrang Dal trespassed into the private property of Mr. Lalit Sahu and started pushing people and beat up the preacher. The police carried the Christians to the police station for questioning and they were let off later after EFI and other local Christian leaders intervened.
Christian meeting disrupted in Dalli Rajhara, Chhattisgarh
October 21, 2015: A prayer meeting organized at the home of Mrs. Dhaneswari Sahu was disrupted by member of the Dharm Jagran Samiti along with some representatives of the Sahu community who were angry that the family had started organizing Christian prayer meetings at their home since last many months. According to reports when the prayer meeting was going on, members of the Dharm Jagran Samiti and representatives of the Sahu community arrived at the house of Mrs. Dhaneswari Sahu in an inebriated state. They created a ruckus and stopped the prayer meeting. They accused the Christians of conversions and also charged them with scheming alleging that the Christians wanted to demolish the nearby temple. The Christians have not reported the matter to the police.
Christians arrested in Kanhiwada, Madhya Pradesh
October 25, 2015: A Christian woman and a man were arrested by the police from a private prayer meeting at Bhatekhari village after a local Hindu leader complained against them alleging conversions through allurement. Mrs. Anjana Jharia and Mr. Manish Yadav were speaking at a private prayer meeting organized at the house of a Christian, when the police arrested them on the complaint of one Ashok Baghel. There is no evidence of Mr. Ashok Baghel even being present in the meeting according to local Christians. They were charged with sections 3 and 4 of the MP Freedom of Religion Act and under sections 506 and 34 of the Indian Penal Code. They were later bailed out.
Christians including children arrested in Junardeo, Madhya Pradesh
October 25, 2015: At least 8 Christians plus two children were arrested from Silvada, Junnardeo on cooked up charges of forced conversion and of hurting religious sentiments this included a family from Bhopal who had come down to Junnardeo for their vacations. Pastor A J Thomas, his wife, and two children, John (14) and Kezia (12) were among the people arrested. Pastor Thomas and his wife were later put in a jail in Junnardeo while their children were taken to Chhindwara which is 50 kilometres away. Later the children were separated and while Kezia was sent to Shahdol (421 Kilometres away), John was sent to Narsinghpur (125 Kilometres away), where they await their bail till the writing of this story. Their parents have been bailed out.
Rev. Dr. Richard Howell,
Evangelical Fellowship of India
New Delhi, India