Persecution Watch, 1-12 October, 2017
On 4 October in Panchasheel Colony of Durg district, Chhattisgarh, the India Full Gospel Mission (IFGM) Church was attempted to be demolished by a man identified only as Srivastava who led a crowd along with local Municipality officials in spite of the Church having a judgment in their favour. Pastor Vinod Achari had to rush to the Church and stop the demolition in time by producing legal documents. This was the second attempt of demolition with the first being on 19 July 2017. Though the agitated crowd turned away, the situation remains tense and the members of the Church feel insecure and traumatised.
On 5 October in Gondia district, Maharashtra, Hindu extremists created ruckus over a Christian prayer meeting scheduled from 6-8 October at Circus Ground, Ganesh Nagar demanding the venue to be either changed or the program cancelled. Rev. Dr. Mathew Kuruvilla was the chief speaker. Neeraj Masih, one of the organizers, reported that they approached the Superintendent of Police for protection which was granted to them during the program. About 10,000 people gathered for the program and the meeting resulted in a huge success.
On 8 October in Dumka district, Jharkhand, the Central Joint Secretary of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Dr Surendra Jain issued an open threat to Christian missionaries and warned them to leave the country or else they would be forced to Quit India’. Dr Jain was participating in a two-day regional meeting of Vishwa Hindu Parishad at Agrasen Bhawan. He further alleged that Christian missionaries confiscate tribal lands and construct church buildings on them.
On 27 September in Hazaribagh, Jharkhand, local police arrested Pastor Soma Singh after a complaint alleging forcible conversion was filed by one Mohan Mahto, who is a mason by profession. Mahto had alleged that Pastor Singh was pressurizing him to convert to Christianity and had even beaten him up on his refusal to do so. He had also alleged that Pastor Singh has already converted his wife and elder son into Christianity after offering them inducements. Local Christian leaders deny the charges. A bail application was moved for Pastor Singh, but the local court has rejected it. Mahto also named Professor Amit Soren in his complaint as a co-conspirator of Pastor Singh who was allegedly pressurizing Mahto’s family for conversion to Christianity. As a result, twelve police men raided Soren’s house late in the night with intentions to arrest him but could not do so as he was not available. His family had approached the court for anticipatory bail, but higher police officials denied cooperation citing immense pressure from higher bureaucrats and political forces. Professor Soren is working at the local St. Columba college.
On 12 October in Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh an agitated mob led by the Hindu Dharma Sena, Hindu Seva Parishad, Dharma Prasar Vibhag and Vishwa Hindu Mahasangh, handed a memorandum to the Superintendent of Police strongly objecting to a Christian meeting scheduled to be held from 27-29 October in Christian Higher Secondary School, Jabalpur. Yogesh Agarwal, the Regional President of Hindu Dharma Sena has alleged that Dr Paul Dhinakaran, who is the guest speaker for the event is engaged in the allurement and conversion of tribals and poor people. Agrawal demanded legal action against Dr Dhinakaran and the organizers of the upcoming meeting.
Rev. Vijayesh Lal,