Persecution Watch, October 2016
Church stoned during Sunday Service at Nagpur
On October 16, 2016 at Nagpur, Maharashtra, the St. Thomas Evangelical Church of India was stoned, while the Sunday worship was going on. Regular worship services have been conducted on the first floor of this rented accommodation for the past four years. It was during the service that a woman entered the hall and started to abuse Pastor Nitin Atkur and the Christians present in filthy language. She left the place immediately after.
A little while later, an attendant informed the Pastor that someone has been pelting stones at the Church hall. Leaning out of the window, “I saw that a man was standing on the street and he immediately threw a cement stone towards the window where I stood. It hit the window and broke the glass pane into pieces,” said Pastor Atkur to EFI. He has not registered any complaint in the police station as of yet.
Christian girl denied last rites in Christian cemetery
On October 16, 2016 at Gadhchiroli, Maharashtra, the head of Katli (Chak) village, summoned the entire villagers on 16th October 2016, and repeated his threat of social excommunication if anyone from the area is found associating with the two Christian families who had been excommunicated last year by him and the village committee. “The village head told the people that if anyone is found associating (even talking) with us (Christians), they will have to pay INR 501 as fine,” informed Suraj, one of the Christians who had been excommunicated last year.
The Gedam family and the Shende family were excommunicated by the village head in October last year. The decision was communicated to them by the village head who had summoned them close to midnightsometime in October 2015. The villagers were told to isolate the two Christian families from all community activities including functions, funerals and other social gatherings.
“Filling water from the public tap became a very difficult task for us since that decision last year; villagers ridicule us with demeaning words everytime we go to fill water at the common tap. We are barred from buying vegetables, groceries from anyone within the village, so for every small need, we have to travel far distances,” said Suraj Gedam, son of Vanita Gedam while narrating their ordeal to EFI. “We thought people’s attitude would change with time, but it is still the same even after a year,”added Suraj.
The Christian had approached the Tanta Mukti Kendra (Problem Solving Centre) to intervene in their social situation but they refused to help. Instead the Christians were advised to file a complaint with the police, which they did on the 7th October 2016, but no action has been taken as yet.
Christians attacked by Hindu Extremists in Faizabad
On October 8, 2016 at Faizabad, Uttar Pradesh, Hindu extremists trespassed into a private residence and attacked the Christians present. Pastor Richard Benjamin of Emmanuel Church had just finished conducting a prayer service in the house of Rajendra Kumar when the incident took place. About 50 people were in attendance during the prayer service.
“We were about 25 people having lunch after the prayer was over. The others had left after having their lunch,” said Pastor Richard Benjamin while speaking to EFI. Suddenly a group of 8 – 10 Hindu extremists carrying wooden sticks barged in and started to abuse the Christians using the filthiest of language. The extremists started beating the Christians present and especially targeted the Pastor and his wife, but the people present formed a human circle around them to protect them. This resulted in a lot of Christians getting hurt.
The assaulters had themselves informed the police prior to attacking the meeting, so the police reached Kumar’s house, “not to rescue us but to arrest us,” said Benjamin. Six Christians including Benjamin and his wife were taken by the police to the Inayatnagar Police station on charges of conversion. There the police withheld them till about midnight, interrogating them before letting them go.
Benjamin later filed a counter complaint against the attackers on 10th October, after which the police arrested 4 or 5 of them. The Hindu families of the attackers recently approached Kumar and have asked the Christians for forgiveness assuring them that “none of their family members would now disturb the Christians in their worship,” said Benjamin. They have given the same in writing before the police said Benjamin.
Rev. Vijayesh Lal,
Evangelical Fellowship of India,
New Delhi, India.