Tag: India

PASTOR SHOT DEAD OUTSIDE CHURCH IN INDIA

by Michael Ireland

Pastor Masih (BPCA photo)

LUDHIANA, INDIA.  Doctors at Dayanand Medical College & Hospital (DMC) in Ludhiana declared Pastor Sultan Masih dead on arrival after witnesses said two armed youth with their faces covered shot at Pastor Sultan from close range.

mi Pastor Sultan Masih 07 17 2017The British Pakistani Christian Association (www.britishpakistanichristians.org ) said parishioners of the Temple of God Church in Salem Tabri locality of Ludhiana rushed to help Pastor Sultan Masih and tried to stem the blood loss, also driving him to the nearest hospital.

BPCA noted that Masih’s son, Rahul Masih, said his father, who was in-charge of the Temple of God Church, had been living there for the last 30 years and had no enmity with anybody.

A Police investigation is under way, however the pastor is not known to have any enemies. Local Christians believe this is a hate attack based on the increasing persecution of Christians in India.

BPCA says incidents of persecution of Christians in India has risen over the past year, pushing it up to No 15 on the 2017 Open Doors World Watch List, up from 31 four years ago.

BPCA explained that India experienced a huge escalation of attacks on its Christian minority in 2016. Attacks on Christians are led by Hindu nationalists acting largely with impunity whivh is a growing concern since the election of President Nahendra Modi in 2014. Just over 2 percent of the country’s population is Christian, and nearly 80 percent of Indians are Hindu.

In analysis of the situation Christians face in India, BPCA says that since the election of Modi, national and provincial authorities “tacitly permit persecution of a deprived Christians in India.” Religious nationalists feel empowered under Modi, who as a teenager joined Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) — a known Hindu fascist group – “whose main aim is to turn India into a Hindu superpower and whose most revered alumni is Nathuram Godse, the fanatic who assassinated Gandhi.

BPCA went on to state that Modi’s political party, Bharatiya Janata party (BJP), once called a three-day strike after alleging Pakistan’s secret services were responsible for the death of 58 Hindu pilgrims in a burning train carriage — a claim that was unsubstantiated. The bloodiest anti-Muslim pogrom in modern history ensued in which Hindu men dragged wives and daughters onto the streets to be raped. It is estimated that between 1,000 and 2,000 people were killed and tens of thousands found themselves homeless.

According to BPCA, religious nationalists increasingly attempt to forcibly convert non-Hindus to their dominant faith, “willing to use violence at the drop of a hat, when community discrimination and non-violent oppression fail to impose their religious beliefs on minority Christians.”

The group states Christians face huge socioeconomic problems, a consequence of decades on uninhibited oppression, many coming from the lowest social class the Dalits and, as such, have always been an easy target for Hindu fundamentalists.

Responding to the killing, Wilson Chowdhry, Chairman of the BPCA, said: “This unprovoked attack on a Christian Pastor before many members of his congregation is an attack on religious freedom. It resonates with the hatred Christians face on a daily basis in a nation that is becoming increasingly polarized under Modi’s government.

mi Pastor Sultan Masih was shot bt two armed youth from close range 07 17 2017″Pastor Sultan Masih’s name is added to a growing list of Christian martyrs across the globe and I will be praying for succor for his family and friends,” he said in an email to ASSIST News Service (ANS) www.assistnews.net .

“Increasing attacks on Christians in India are a cause for international concern, yet since ending the 10-year diplomatic boycott of Narendra Modi in 2012, Britain has forged strong diplomatic ties with him, fermenting an unwillingness to condemn the known human rights atrocities under his regime.

Chowdhry concluded: “With nations in the west increasingly basing international diplomacy with India on financial grounds little will be done to stem increasing non-Hindu hatred. Ominously this means assassinations of innocent Christian pastors in India are set to rise.”

Source: ASSIST News Service



Hindu Extremist Attack in Odisha State, India Ends in ‘Agreement’ Stopping Worship Services

Injured Christians forced to sign document.

Odisha state, India. (Wikimedia)

HYDERABAD, India () – After an attack in eastern India in which a Christian was seriously injured, police and Hindus this month created an “agreement” – without participation of church members – effectively halting worship services, sources said.

Church members were bullied into signing the agreement, they said. As a result, in the tribal village of Abasing in Gajapati District, Odisha state, Sunday worship services have ceased following the June 18 attack on a worship service by a mob of Hindu women, a church leader said.

“There was no worship last Sunday, and this Sunday too we can’t worship,” Pastor Samuel Karjee told Morning Star News. “I can’t tell you how dry and barren we feel. Our hearts yearn to pray and worship together.”

About 30 Hindu women entered the house where the congregation had been worshipping for six months, broke into front and back entrances and dragged the 12 Christians present out, he said.

“We were dragged out, and there were over 300 village Hindus waiting to beat us,” Pastor Karjee said. “They have beaten us with sticks and lathis, kicked us and used foul language against women believers. We tried hard to keep them from physically attacking the women.”

The assailants punched a 13-year-old girl, Madhusmita Bhuyan, in the stomach, and pushed her, he said. Four Christians who were injured were temporarily detained and forced to sign the document: Taruna Kumar Nayak, Aruna Kumar Nayak, Budhanth Kumar Nayak and Ashes Bhuyan. Ravindra Bhuyan was also injured and temporarily detained, he said.

Pastor Karjee said the villagers were shouting during the attack, “Why are you conducting church services? We don’t like Christians. Who are Christians? It’s a foreign religion. Christianity is nothing. You must not pray here.”

Rajata Bada Raita, 24, was seriously injured and still goes for follow-up treatments at District Hospital in Paralakhemundi, he said.
“The doctors said his injuries are internal,” Pastor Karjee said. “He visits the hospital for regular checkups and still has not fully recovered.”

Snatching Bibles and devotional literature from the Christians, the assailants went to a police station complaining that Christian missionaries, pastors and evangelists were visiting the village and distributing them.

After the 11:30 a.m. attack, at 6 p.m. the church members reached the Rayagada block police station and filed a First Information Report (FIR) against eight suspects identified as Chaudhri Gomango, Bamana Sabar, Deeptiranjan Bhuyan, Sarathi Bhuyan, Hari Bada Raita, Arjun Bhuyan, Dinabandhu Karjee and Dandapani Karjee.

Police patrolled the area that night, and the next morning, June 19, church members went to the police station to find officers had arrested 25 Hindus villagers and the five Christians, he said, adding that the Christians in custody were not given food or water all day.

Two members from every Hindu family in the village of about 300 families came to the police station, he said, including members of the Hindu extremist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Bajrang Dal groups. In the presence of the divisional police and the Tahsildar magistrate, the Hindus formulated the “agreement” with police.

“They went inside the police station, and an agreement was written without our involvement,” Pastor Karjee said. “The agreement mentions the parties have discussed and come to this agreement, but it is not true.”

Along with the four church members who were forced to sign the document, seven Hindus also signed.

Police did not allow Christians inside the police station while the document was written. Pastor Karjee, who didn’t sign it, was given a copy of it only after the four injured church members were forced to sign it. The agreement stipulates:

Christians cannot celebrate any event without prior permission from the police station.

Christians can worship Jesus Christ in their own house, but they must not invite any pastors or missionaries or evangelists.

Christian families intending to celebrate something together, including birthday parties, must submit an application to police, and only with permission can they invite the pastor.

If Hindus intend to celebrate any event and are concerned for their safety, they can complain to police of “the threat from Christians.”

It further states that if there are ever any attacks between the parties, the matter must be settled before the police, not by courts. If any of the parties violate the agreement, action will be taken only by police, a translation of the document shows.

Superintendent of Police Sushil Kumar Panigrahi told Morning Star News that it was a mutually agreed upon document.

“There was consent of both the parties,” he said. “There was an attack between two religious groups, and from what it seems, it’s an isolated incident. There were attacks like this a year ago.”

Asked if the Christians were allowed to worship in the village now, he said, “The situation is normal, and Christians are worshipping,” but Pastor Karjee refuted the assertion.

“There was no worship service last Sunday,” he said. “I told the officer, ‘Sir, we are Christians. We need to pray. How can we survive without prayer?” They said, ‘If you want prayer, construct a church here, and leave this village. Don’t call missionaries, pastors or evangelists.’”

Having witnessed the power of prayer, Pastor Karjee said the church is deeply disturbed that they do not have permission to gather, and that even if they did, the pastor is prohibited from joining them.

“We have witnessed the results of persistent prayers together as a church, and we can’t put it away,” he said. “I am crying as I talk to you right now.”

Source: Morning Star News



Christians Taking Children to Camp in India Charged with Kidnapping, Forced Conversion

Ratlam railway station in Madhya Pradesh state, India. (Morning Star News via Indiarailinfo.com)

HYDERABAD, India (Morning Star News) – Six Christians taking children to a Vacation Bible School camp in Madhya Pradesh state, India, remain in custody after police detained them last month on charges of kidnapping and forcible conversion, sources said.

Also detained was a 15-year-old boy who was held in a juvenile detention center for nearly a month before he was released on Tuesday (June 20).
“I missed my home so much – I cried every day, and prayed and prayed,” Akash Gundia told Morning Star News. “Finally, the Lord heard me. I am happy to be back home.”

Akash was one of 72 children preparing to board a train in Ratlam on May 21 for a Vacation Bible School (VBS) camp in Nagpur before Ratlam Railway Police detained them and the eight adults supervising them. The children were all Christians whose parents had granted permission for them to go to the program, sources said.

“I told the police I am a Christian by birth, and we are going to attend the VBS, but they did not listen to me and took us to the police station,” Akash said after his release from Ratlam Juvenile Detention Center. “Children as young as 6 also were in police custody, but when their parents came, the police handed them over to the parents. I was produced in court a day later, and from there was sent to a juvenile detention home.”

The children had arrived at the station from other villages, so it took two or three days before their parents learned of their detention and were able to get to Ratlam to retrieve them.

From Jabua village, 60 Christian children along with adults had travelled by bus to Megh Nagar on May 21 to catch a train to Ratlam Railway Station. Another 12 Christian children accompanied by two adults from Alirajpur village churches had also arrived by train from Indore Railway Station to join them.

The combined groups were to catch a private bus arranged by a church in Ratlam to reach Nagpur.

Akash’s father, Hartesh Singh Gundia, told Morning Star News that he and other parents arrived at the Ratlam Police Station within two or three days and informed officers that they were already Christians and that there was no case of forcible or fraudulent conversion.

“But they refused to hand over my child to me,” Singh Gundia told Morning Star News. “Later, I got to know from the police station that police had not intended to file the case, but that there was pressure from RSS [Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, a Hindu extremist umbrella group] and Bajrang Dal activists, because of whom my child spent 25 days in judicial custody.”

The parents customarily send their children to such camps every summer, he said.

Singh Gundia’s son was found innocent of any wrongdoing, but the Ratlam District Court and the state High Court denied bail to five adults volunteering to supervise the children.

Asserting that police had yet to submit the charge sheet with the case diary, the High Court on June 12 denied bail to Ameya Jaal, 45; Alkesh Ganava, 27; Pandu Singh Vasuniya, 31; Nitin Mandod, 23; and Lalu Babore, 28, Singh Gundia said.

A sixth volunteer, 17-year-old Vijay Meda, was also denied bail and remains in custody. Determining that he was over 17 years old but less than 18, the Juvenile Justice Board rejected his bail application. On June 16 the counsel representing him filed an application to the Juvenile Justice Board to transfer his case to Ratlam Railway Court.

“We are making all efforts to get them bailed out,” Singh Gundia said.

Two women who were also supervising the children, Sharmila Damore and Savita Buria, were also detained on May 21. The Additional Sessions Court of Ratlam granted them bail on May 27.

Legal delays appear to be prolonging the case; prosecutors have told the court that the case diary is not available and therefore requested that the trial be put off. A hearing is scheduled for Wednesday (June 28).

Eight Years in Prison

While police appear to be slow to submit the charge sheets to judicial authorities, they have charged the Christians under sections 3 and 4 of Madhya Pradesh’s anti-conversion law, the so-called Freedom of Religion Act prohibiting forcible conversion, attorney Anand Nagarkar told Morning Star News.

The prison term for forcible conversion is one year, he said.

The VBC volunteers were also charged with Section 353 of Indian Penal Code prohibiting kidnapping, which calls for a prison term of seven years.

“The children were travelling with tickets accompanied by the adults, and we argued it before the court,” Nagarkar said. “The charges were framed based on malice and suspicion, and on this basis there can be no conviction, but the police have been taking it slow to file the challan [charge sheet]. They are under pressure by the Bajrang Dal and RSS activists.”

The parents of the 72 children have submitted an affidavit before the court that all the children were born to Christian parents, and that the adults were volunteers in Sunday schools of the respective churches, Nagarkar said.

“My daughters also were among the children; they were going to the VBS camp,” said Dhum Singh Gundia, pastor of a church in Jabua.

Since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took power in May 2014, the hostile tone of his National Democratic Alliance government, led by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), against non-Hindus has emboldened Hindu extremists in several parts of the country to attack Christians, religious rights advocates say.

India ranked 15th on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2017 World Watch List of the countries where Christians experience the most persecution.

Source: Morning Star News



Hindu Radicals Use “Siege-Like” Tactics to Choke Christianity Out of Village in India

By ICC’s India Correspondent

Two and a half years ago, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the Hindu nationalist BJP into power. Unfortunately, radical Hindu groups like the RSS, VHP, and Bajrangdal have used the BJP’s rise to power as a permission slip to harass Christians across the nation. Recently, radical Hindu groups have been using social boycotts to force Christians to “reconvert” to Hinduism.

activists-from-the-akhil-bharatiya-vidyarthi-parishad

Activists from the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the student wing of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP

16 Christian families living in Nachandih village in the Kondagaon district of India’s Chhattisgarh state are currently enduring such social boycotts. Hindu villagers refuse to allow them to participate in social events, graze their cattle, cultivate their farmland, or even live in their homes because they refuse to surrender their Christian faith. Since most of the Christians are farmers, these boycotts utterly destroyed their livelihood.

In 2012, 16 families from Nachandih village embraced Christ after God performed several healings and other miracles. Until March 2016, they were able to publicly practice Christianity, including meeting for regular worship and prayer services.

That changed on March 14, 2016 when Bajrangdal leaders manipulated the local village council to issue this ultimatum: “Christians should not be in this village, only Hindus have the freedom to live in the village, because India is [a] Hindu country. Those who have accepted the Christian faith must be reconverted back to Hinduism.” Despite this declaration, the Christian families refused to reconvert. The radicals then implemented social boycotts to try and change their minds.

The next day, the Christians went to the police station and filed a complaint against the Bajrangdal, but the police protected the Bajrangdal leaders instead of the Christians. This defeat was the first of many for Nachandih’s Christians.

india_-_0513_-_attacchi_chiese_fAlong with the social boycott, Bajrangdal leaders threatened the Christians to coerce them to convert to Hinduism. Pangu Markham, a 45-year-old Christian, described the dire situation to International Christian Concern (ICC), “There were about 300 people [on] one side and we, the small community of believers, were on the other side. The Hindu radicals threatened to kill us and take possession of our properties if we did not reconvert.”

Gradually, things got worse. One of the Christians who refused to reconvert, Prasad Markham, told ICC, “Hindu radicals destroyed my house and later kidnapped my one and a half-year-old daughter. They are not allowing me to rebuild my house.”

Over time, Christians like Pangu Markham acknowledged, “It is increasingly becoming hard for us to continue as Christians in the village. We are watched by the leaders of Bajrangdal. Because we are totally cut off from the village, we sometimes do not have enough food to eat. We are constantly harassed for no other reason than our Christian identity. This month we are not even allowed to bury our dead in the village.”

By May 2016, Hindu radicals grew tired of waiting for reconversions. They organized a mass reconversion ceremony at a Hindu temple and forced eight of the Christian families to attend. One of the family members, Themra Salam, described the ceremony, “Out of compulsion and fear, I participated in the re-conversion ceremony. It seemed I had no other choice as the Hindu radicals destroyed my house, stole my land and house deeds, and threatened to either kill me and my family or drive us out of the village.” Salam continued, “Inwardly, I follow Jesus and worship him. I want to come back and continue as a Christian openly.”

In addition to the threats and the ceremony, radicals forced each re-convert to pay a fine for previously accepting Christianity. Salam noted that he had to pay 20,000 rupees, approximately $300.00 USD, as the last person to renounce Christianity while the other seven families only paid 1,000 rupees.

Unfortunately, the story of suffering faced by Christians in Nachandih village is just one example of Christians facing social boycotts in India. Currently, Christians in over 50 villages in India’s Chhattisgarh state alone face similar siege-like tactics. Due to the fact that Hindu radicals have the freedom to conduct these social boycotts, there is no evidence to suggest that they will stop in the near future. This is a worrying trend and requires India’s elected representatives to take action to protect all citizens’ rights, regardless of their religious identity.

Source: International Christian Concern (www.persecution.org)



INDIA – Intolerance and violence against Pentecostal Christians

(Agenzia Fides) – “There is growing intolerance and hostility toward small Pentecostal Christian communities, that are not allowed to do what is guaranteed by constitutional guarantees”: says to Agenzia Fides Sajan K. George, president of the global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), recalling the recent episodes of violence suffered by Protestant Pentecostal Pastors.

indian-christians

On August 20, Pastor Roy of the “Sharon Fellowship Church Town” was pelted with stones by extremists in Kodungallur, in the state of Kerala. Pastor Roy explained that, over the last five years, during the Sunday liturgies there have always been tension due to the presence of fanatical Hindus militants who want to stop the celebrations.

In another recent incident, in Bangalore, Karnataka, on August 18, a 26-year-old evangelist Christian leader of the Thadou Christian Fellowship Church was attacked and punched by five men, after paying a visit to his friend to lead a prayer meeting.
According to the Pentecostal communities, these attacks are on the rise. Speaking to Fides, Sajan K. George said: “Pastors are not doing anything illegal, or causing problems of public order or security. It is the militants who carry out gratuitous violence on innocent Christians. It is up to the state to give an institutional response, to stop the violence, ensure the rule of law”.

christian-india1

On August 25, 2008, nearly 200 villages in Kandhamal were attacked and forced 30,000 people to flee the East-Indian state of Odisha. 300 churches and approx. 5,600 houses were looted and burned to the ground. 2,000 people were reportedly forced to renounce their Christian faith and more than 10,000 children had their education disrupted. The violence against the Christian community in Kandhamal led to the death of about 100 Christians, although the government figures put the figure at 39.

Though incident reports were filed, police investigations were not thorough, cases prematurely closed and offenders not prosecuted. Earlier this month, the Supreme Court of India said the state needed to re-investigate 315 cases of communal violence from 2008.

“The minorities are as much children of the soil as the majority and the approach has been to ensure that nothing should be done, as might deprive the minorities of a sense of belonging, of a feeling of security, of a consciousness of equality and of the awareness that the conservation of their religion, culture, language and script as also the protection of their educational institutions is a fundamental right enshrined in the Constitution… it can, indeed, be said to be an index of the level of civilisation and catholicity of a nation as to how far their minorities feel secure and are not subject to any discrimination or suppression,” read that ruling.

Anti-Christian violence in Kandhamal is not uncommon and Christians in the district have been subject to hate campaigns by Hindu fundamentalists since the 1960s. The violence in 2008 was sparked by the killing of prominent Hindu and the media and police suggested a Maoist group could have been behind the death, however Hindu fundamentalists blamed the Christian community.

India’s Christian communities are tense as violence against them has been on the rise. Please pray for them.

Source: Voice of the Persecuted