Persecution Watch, 13-31 October, 2017
On 13 October in Sakti Tehsil, Janjgir-Champa district, Chhattisgarh, Pastor Khel Prasad Kurrey of Believers Church was attacked by two men. Kurrey was on his way to visit a Church member when these men with faces covered attempted to stop him. While he continued to drive, these men chased him forcing him to halt. They ambushed Kurrey and attacked him with wooden sticks hitting his head thrice. Kurrey fell to the ground, bleeding profusely. They continued to beat him until the local villagers reached to his rescue after hearing his screams. A police complaint was lodged against unidentified assailants.
On 14 October in Maskawad village, Raver Tehsil, Jalgaon district, Maharashtra a mob of 300-400 Hindu extremists stormed into the house of Janu Barela at night and started to manhandle the family. They questioned the faith of the family and ransacked the house searching in the shelves and the furniture. They snatched Barela’s cell phone and took away the memory card, carried the Bibles and song books with them. They questioned Barela for conducting prayer meetings in his house and threatened him with dire consequences if he did not deter. Barela during the incident was with his wife and three children, two of whom have been handicapped. Mentally shaken by the attack, Barela vacated the rented house and moved to a different town. The mental and physical abuse has rendered them jobless in a new town, as they try to come to terms with the fear and agony they had to undergo.
On 15 October in village Lakhvariya, Shahdol district of Madhya Pradesh, Pastor Munnalal Baiga’s house fellowship was disrupted by a mob of 60-70 Hindu extremists during worship service. The mob argued with the pastor and threatened him and the Christians attending the fellowship. The police were called-in to handle the situation who reprimanded the extremists and dispersed them. Pastor Baiga was later called to the Burhar police station where he was asked to obtain permission from the Shahdol Superintendent of Police to hold the Sunday service in future.
On 16 October in village Khilamara, Rangjuli tehsil, Goalpara district of Assam, a local Hindu extremist raided the farm of Biren Raba, a Christian during the previous night and cut about a hundred rubber plants amounting to almost all the rubber trees in his farm. Sources have informed EFI that the Hindu extremists are using this as a tool to teach Christians a lesson, who have not paid heed to their warnings to discourage them from practising their Christian faith. A complaint has been filed in the local police station, and a few people have been reportedly arrested.
On 17 October in Panipat, Haryana, an open-air meeting was organised, wherein Bishop Amos Singh was the guest speaker. The organisers are reported to have secured all the necessary permissions from authorities to conduct this event. However, there was strong opposition from the extremists and they were forced to conduct the entire open-air meeting without a sound system after police intervened.
On 20 October in Kishanpur village, Bhil tehsil, Bharatpur district, Rajasthan, angry villagers attacked Pastor Phul Singh’s house late evening with iron rods and threw burning firecrackers at it. This happened as a reprisal after Singh had asked some boys to burst firecrackers maintaining distance from his house. A mob soon gathered blaming Singh to be a Christian and alleged that he carried out conversion activity. The matter flared up to an extent that the mob became physical. Some of Pastor’s well-wishers locked him inside his own house to save him from the violent mob. Eventually, Singh along with his daughter had to escape from their house to seek protection in the local police station.
On 21 October at Sarvoday Nagar, Raebareli district, Uttar Pradesh, Pastor Jitendra Kumar of Grace Church was threatened by the Hindu extremists of attacking his Church if he did not stop conducting Church services. Kumar and his congregation have been facing series of threats in the past and despite their application requesting protection, no action has been taken by the local police and no protection granted.
On 21 October in Lakhvariya village, Shahdol district, Madhya Pradesh, Pastor Munnalal Baiga approached the Superintendent of Police of Shahdol requesting protection for conducting Sunday service of 22 October, after his Sunday service which was conducted in a Church members house was attacked on the previous Sunday (15 October) by a mob of about 70 Hindu extremists and police had to be called to control the situation. The SP denied protection and instead asked Baiga to conduct Sunday service in a church building in future and not in a church member’s house.
On 23 October in Ghattemni village, Amgaon Taluk, Gondia district, Maharashtra, Hindu extremists barged into the area vandalising the place where Pastor Laxman Mesram was screening a film on the life of Jesus. The Hindu extremists not only created a ruckus but also filed a complaint against Mesram in the local police station. The police sternly questioned Mesram for organizing the screening of the film in public area without availing permission from the concerned local authorities. They let him go after issuing him a strong verbal warning.
On 23 October in Pharasgaon, Kondagaon district, Chhattisgarh, Lalsay Markam, a Christian lodged a complaint in the Pharasgaon police station after being physically assaulted and verbally abused by the villagers on 22 October. Markam, who conducts regular Sunday worship in the village was summoned by the Hindu extremists before the village council for peace-talks. Furious at the ever-increasing number of worshippers getting added to Markam’s Church fellowship, the gathering started to assault Markam who somehow managed to escape the mob assault only to face continuous threats from the villagers throughout the night. Fearing the physical and verbal abuse, he approached the local police.
On 23 October in Chhoti Themli, Kondagaon district, Chhattisgarh, Sahdev Markam, was forced out of his own house by angry villagers for his new-found faith in Jesus Christ. Markam, who works as a daily wage labourer faced the wrath of the villagers after he started to attend Church. He along with his wife were forced to leave his ancestral home and take shelter in another Christian’s home.
On 23 October in Indore, Madhya Pradesh, Anita Francis and Amrit Kumar were arrested at the Indore railway station with seven Christian children who had boarded the train to Mumbai for a Christian camp. A mob of about 100 Hindu extremists gathered at the platform and brought Anita and the other children on the platform along with Amrit Kumar and his son who had gone to send them off and started to interrogate them. The mob soon began to assault Amrit, his son, Anita and the children. They were all handed over to the railway police accusing Anita and Amrit of forcefully converting the children. The children continued to tell the police and later told the High Court magistrate that they were all Christians and that the police had also assaulted them while in custody.
On 23 October in Poompuhar village, Nagapattinam district, Tamil Nadu, Santhosh and Sathish, two Christians were forced to abandon their homes along with their wives and children owing to their Christian faith. The village panchayat (council) warned them to never return to their homes and planned to auction their household belongings. The two families had no place to find shelter. The police on 27 October intervened and was successful in rehabilitating one family back to their own home, whereas Sathish and his family continue to live with his wife’s parents in some other village. They continue to face pressure and opposition from the villagers.
On 29 October in Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh the meeting of Dr Paul Dhinakaran held from 27- 29 October ended with great success despite strong opposition from the Hindu Dharma Sena, Hindu Seva Parishad, Dharma Prasar Vibhag and Vishwa Hindu Mahasangh, who had met with the Superintendent of Police and handed a memorandum, strongly objecting to the Christian meeting. Yogesh Agarwal, the Regional President of Hindu Dharma Sena gave statements before the media alleging 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. The meeting was organized in Christian Higher Secondary School, Jabalpur.
Rev. Vijayesh Lal,
General Sect. EFI