VOICE OF THE PERSECUTED

Category Archives: India

Archives

INDIA: Karnataka Christian hospital official arrested for proselytising

(AsiaNews) – Members of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a radical Hindu group, on Monday stormed the Sanjo Hospital, Mandya district (Karnataka), and beat up Simon George, a public relations officer, and Sister Nirmal Jose the hospital administrator.

The extremists claim that the two denigrated Hindu deities. Instead of helping the victims of the attack, police took Simon George into custody. He applied for bail but the court turned him down.

For Fr Josekutty Kalayil, who takes care of the hospital’s legal affairs, the incident stems from the hospitalization on Sunday of an elderly Hindu with high blood pressure.

Just before he was discharged, the man asked why there was a Bible in his room. Simon George, who was doing a routine tour, replied that he could read it if he was interested. This was followed shortly afterwards by the attack.

According to Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), the hospital was attacked because it is run by Christian religious, even though it serves everyone, regardless of faith or caste.

“Christian missionaries who work in the medical and educational field are targeted every day by extremists who try to discredit their altruistic work, which is to get people the ‘beneficial touch’ of Jesus,” George explained.

In his view, the charges against the Sanjo Hospital staff are false. “There is nothing criminal or illegal about keeping a Bible in a hospital room; no Hindu deity has been offended,” he noted.

The Christian community Mandya district is very small, about 9,000 people out of a population of 1.8 million, but it is under constant threat from extremist groups.

“Our Christian institutions serve mostly those who attack, abuse and assault us. May God forgive them for they know not what they do,” was George’s laconic comment.

India: Christian Leader in Madhya Pradesh Run Over by Motorcycles

Church leader Isaac Paulose in hospital after attack in Sehore, Madhya Pradesh state, India. (Morning Star News)

(Morning Star News) – Violence against Christians in India hit a new level on Tuesday (March 3) when Hindu extremists ran their motorcycles over a key evangelical leader after beating him, sources said.

Armed with bamboo rods and a thick metal chain with a heavy lock on it, the 10 Hindu nationalists in Sehore, Madhya Pradesh state beat Isaac Paulose, 48, and then ran their five motorcycles over him, fracturing one of his ribs, said Uttar Kumar Deep, pastor of Grace Fellowship Church of CEA (Christian Evangelistic Assemblies), Sehore.

Paulose, an elder at the church and Madhya Pradesh coordinator of the New India Evangelistic Association, was attacked shortly after dropping his 5-year-old son off at school that morning, Pastor Deep said.

Paulose was in his car when a Hindu nationalist on a motorcycle stopped him and told him to get out, he said.

“Unaware of his intentions and without a slightest of suspision, Isaac stepped out,” Pastor Deep said. “Suddenly others joined the biker, and all of them began to beat Isaac with bamboo logs and a chain.”

Paulose’s wife, Elizabeth Isaac, said he was stopped no more than 300 meters from their home.

“The moment he stepped out of his car, the others joined in, and they began to beat him,” Isaac said. “Accusing him of ‘converting people,’ they beat him with bamboo logs and a thick metal chain with a lock attached to its end. They scorned and ridiculed him, daring him to continue to convert people.”

Hindu extremists routinely attack Christians for “conversion,” though conversion is legal in India, and also routinely raise false accusations against them of illegal “forcible conversion.” They frequently make no distinction between the two.

The assailants threatened to kill the pastor before leaving, Pastor Deep said.

“When he lay on the ground half-dead, they drove their bikes, five in number, one after another over him, injuring him further and breaking his rib,” Pastor Deep told Morning Star News. “They scorned and taunted him, asking him to call on the name of Jesus. They also threatened to kill him if he continues to ‘convert’ people.”

Paulose also sustained injuries in his head and legs and hand, dislocating three fingers, sources said.

The assailants fled only after passers-by noticed and came to Paulose’s aid, Pastor Deep said. He said Paulose did not recognize any of those who assaulted him.

Paulose was rushed to a local government hospital, and then later that same day transferred to Bhopal Fracture Hospital, 26 miles from Sehore, in order to receive appropriate treatment, sources said.

On Friday (March 6) he underwent two surgeries on his left hand, which sustained multiple fractures, his wife said.

“He has received two stitches at the back of his head, and one stitch on his forehead,” Isaac said. “One of his ribs is fractured, for which the doctors said that nothing can be done and that he will need to take a lot of rest for the rib to heal by itself.”

Hemant Lal, a Christian leader from Bhopal, said Paulose was honored to suffer in Christ’s name.

“Brother Isaac’s condition was very bad when he was brought to Bhopal,” Lal told Morning Star News. “I was amazed at his faith. He told me he was not scared, and that there will be difficulties in doing the Lord’s work, but that he was glad that he suffered for the name of Jesus.”

Peace and Strength

Sehore police registered a First Information Report (FIR) on Tuesday (March 3) against unidentified assailants under the Indian Penal Code for criminal intimidation, damage, wrongful restraint and voluntarily causing hurt.

On Thursday (March 5) they added a section pertaining to attempted murder, Pastor Deep said.

Pastor Deep said Paulose does not engage in forced conversion.

“Such incidents should not happen with us; we are peace-loving people,” Pastor Deep said. “We do not get violent, and accusing someone of [forced] conversion without any reason and proof is not a good thing.”

Thanking all who have prayed and continue to pray for them, Paulose’s wife said she was initially shaken but is now at peace.

“Initially, I was very troubled and in a state of shock after seeing Isaac in this condition, but later the Lord gave me peace and strength,” she told Morning Star News. “It is our privilege to suffer for the Lord, and we will continue to work for the Lord. I am sure that God will reward us.”

India is ranked 10th on Open Doors’ 2020 World Watch List of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian. The country was 31st in 2013, but its position has worsened since Narendra Modi of the Bharatiya Janata Party came to power in 2014.

VOP Note: Please pray for this brother, his family and Christians in India.

Tonight on Persecution Watch: Iran, India, Uganda, Nigeria

(Voice of the Persecuted) Saturday, 2/29/20 – Dear Prayer Warriors, Jesus asked, “do you love me?”

“15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”

“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”

16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”

17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.”  John 21: 15-17

Because we love Jesus, we come in obedience of His calling as we feed His sheep by lifting them up to the Lord in time of need!

In Iran

It’s been confirmed that Christian convert Fatemeh (Mary) Mohammadi is being held in Qarchak detention centre, south of the Iranian capital Tehran. It is a month today since Mary was arrested, as protests took place in central Tehran following the Iranian government’s admission of guilt in the downing of a Ukrainian passenger plane. Since that time, there has been no word from Mary, although last week the Persian-language HRANA news agency.  Read more 

In India

Police find no evidence for accusations but yield to Hindu extremist pressure. India (Morning Star News) – Three Christians in northern India spent more than two months in jail suffering abuse from other prisoners, even though police found no evidence of wrongdoing and the complainant retracted his accusation, sources said. In Uttar Pradesh state’s Mau District, 23-year-old pastor Ajay Kumar, fellow pastor Om Prakash, 20, and another Christian, 62-year-old Kapil Dev Ram, still face fabricated charges after being released on bail late last month. Read more

In Nigeria

Islamic extremist militants from terrorist group Boko Haram on Friday night (Feb. 21) destroyed three worship sites and an unspecified number of houses in northeast Nigeria, sources said. Thousands of people were displaced as the militants set three church buildings and the houses on fire in predominantly Christian Garkida, in Adamawa state’s Gombi County, area residents told Morning Star News.  Read more

In Uganda

The pastor of a church in eastern Uganda faces a dilemma after receiving threatening messages from Muslim villagers last week. A large family is staying at his church site after Islamist threats for leaving Islam forced them to flee their home. His congregation is dwindling as members have stopped attending services out of fear of an Islamist attack. Read More

Dear Saints, We will pray for the dear ones affected by these atrocities, along with believers in these four nations. Lord willing we’re looking forward to praying with you, tonight.

In the love of Christ called to serve in prayer,

Nadia Dybvik, Prayer Leader for Persecution Watch

Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday

From any location on your phone

Time:

9:00 PM EST

8:00 PM CST

7:00 PM MST

6:00 PM PST

Call in number: 712 775-7035

Access Code: 281207#

Recommended: For those who may be subject to added charges for conference calls. Please download the app, it’s free!

MOBILE APP: Free Conference Call HD also provides a quick and easy way for you to dial into conference calls without having to remember the dial-in credentials. Save all of your conference call dial-in numbers and access codes using this free app. With the Free Conference Call HD you can instantly dial into a conference call via 3G/4G data network and or regular mobile carrier. Google Play link or App Store – iTunes

What is Persecution Watch?
Persecution Watch is a U.S. national prayer conference call ministry that prays specifically for the global Persecuted Church. For over a decade, Blaine Scogin led this national network of believers who faithfully pray for the persecuted and the global harvest for the Kingdom of God. The group meets via a free call-in service every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday night at 9pm Eastern (please check your time zone). Blaine also served as Prayer Director for Voice of the Persecuted and our missions became one. The prayer mission of Persecution Watch is an important part of our own. With the passing of Blaine into glory on December 26, 2019, Voice of the Persecuted is committed to continue the prayer conference call for the persecuted along with our dedicated prayer warrior team.

On occasion, persecuted brothers and sisters have been invited on the call to share the trials they’re facing. The team serves to encourage them by washing their feet in Spirit led prayer. Time is often reserved for those on the call to ask questions. We believe this helps to gain a better understanding of the situation that persecuted Christians endure in their specific nations. Q&A also helps us to focus our prayers based on their current needs.

Persecution Watch also hosts callers who want to pray united from other nations. If your heart is perplexed by the sufferings of our persecuted brothers and sisters, you no longer need to pray alone. We welcome all who desire to pray for the persecuted church and consider it a joy to pray together with you. If you’re new to the call and can’t find your voice, listen in and pray silently or on mute. We are grateful and thank the Lord for bringing us all together to pray in agreement for our persecuted family in Christ. We can all be prayer warriors on this call!

NOTE: Persecution Watch has a new email address for the prayer team and those who would like to receive urgent prayer requests, weekly call prayer points and notification of special prayer events and special guest speakers. Please fill out the form below to be included in our new distribution list to receive this important information. Since the passing of Brother Blaine Scogin, we thank you for your patience as we have transitioned into this new season. We are grateful for your prayers and to the Lord for guiding us as we continue the Persecution Watch prayer call mission.

Note to Voice of the Persecuted (VOP) readers: The Persecution Watch prayer team is also the prayer team of Voice of the Persecuted. SIGN UP today and join the team!

Christians Suffer Two Months of Abuse in Jail on Baseless Charges in India

Pastors Om Prakash (left) and Ajay Kumar face baseless charges in Uttar Pradesh, India. (Morning Star News)

Police find no evidence for accusations but yield to Hindu extremist pressure.

India (Morning Star News) – Three Christians in northern India spent more than two months in jail suffering abuse from other prisoners, even though police found no evidence of wrongdoing and the complainant retracted his accusation, sources said.

In Uttar Pradesh state’s Mau District, 23-year-old pastor Ajay Kumar, fellow pastor Om Prakash, 20, and another Christian, 62-year-old Kapil Dev Ram, still face fabricated charges after being released on bail late last month.

Pastor Kumar said the time they spent in jail was a “nightmare.”

“Every night was a traumatic night for us,” Pastor Kumar told Morning Star News. “We did not know when a mob would wake us in the middle of the night and torment us.”

Accused of forceful conversion by Hindu extremists who disrupted their Nov. 26 worship at Ram’s home in Daraura village, the two pastors were released on bail on Jan. 27 after two months and a day in jail. Ram was released on Jan. 29 after spending two months and three days in jail.

In spite of the ordeal, the pastors managed to explain the gospel of eternal salvation to many prisoners in their barracks, with one putting his faith in Christ.

Pastor Kumar said they faced the same kind of Hindu nationalist opposition in jail as they did outside it.

“Prisoners inside the jail showed their religious bias,” Pastor Kumar told Morning Star News. “We did not lie when our co-prisoners asked us the reason for us being in jail, and when we told them that it’s a case of [forcible] conversion, they despised us and spread the word around.”

A group of prisoners came on many nights to wake him and Ram, who were in one barrack while Prakash was in another, he said.

“They used vulgar language and asked us how much foreign money we have earned by carrying out conversions,” Pastor Kumar said. “They demanded money from us, asking us to share the supposed loot with them. And when we explained that there was no money involved, they beat me with fists and legs. They spared Kapil from beatings as he is a senior citizen and said that I have to take his share of beating as well.”

They faced continuous threats, including warnings that they would not be spared after their release, he said.

“‘We will deal with you outside the prison for carrying out conversions,’ said many of them, but we always spoke to them politely,” Pastor Kumar said. “There are things that happened to us that I cannot even share about.”

One day an influential prisoner summoned him and asked him to pray for a man who had been unable to sleep at night since his arrest months before, Pastor Kumar said.

“He will go crazy and die in the prison, I was told,” he said.

Pastor Kumar went to the man, prayed for him and began to spend time with him, he said.

“One day he broke and began to confess his sins in prayer; he started to get sleep at nights,” Pastor Kumar said. “The troublesome prisoners began to trouble this man too, questioning him as to why he has started to pray along with the Christians, to which he answered, ‘When I was upset, nobody helped me. It was Ajay who told me about Christ and comforted me.’”

The day that Pastor Kumar and Ram were about to leave jail, the man told them that he believed in Christ and wanted to follow Him, the pastor said.

“I was full of joy,” he said.

In the other barrack, Pastor Prakash was suffering from chickenpox and was quarantined for nearly two weeks. He received no medicine for his illness.

“There was no neatness inside the jail. I could not sleep for the first full month. The food was extremely bad. Only because one must survive, one had to eat,” Pastor Prakash told Morning Star News.

The 70 to 75 prisoners in his area came to know that he was a pastor, and he told each of them the gospel of eternal life, he said.

“I spent time in prayer for two hours in the morning, and two hours in the evening,” he said. “People started to come to me with their prayer requests. I shared the Good News with all the prisoners in my barrack.”

Of the nine prisoners released from his area while he was incarcerated, five said they wished to connect with him and attend his church after release, Pastor Prakash said.

“Though I went through a lot of troubles and hardships, I was happy I was inside, doing the Lord’s work,” Pastor Prakash said.

Baseless Accusation

Pastors Kumar and Prakash, who help lead Sharon Fellowship Church in Mohammadabad, Gohana about five miles from Daraura village, were visiting Ram’s home for the time of fellowship when the Hindu extremists intruded.

After the arrests on Nov. 26, three other pastors arrived at the Ranipur police station to speak to the Station Officer (SO).

One of the other pastors, Raj Kumar, told Morning Star News that the station officer said he questioned villagers who had attended the fellowship and found no evidence of forceful conversion.

“He said the people testified of the miracles that happened in their lives after attending prayer in Kapil’s house,” Pastor Raj Kumar said. “He met a lady who said that she could not conceive for 15 years and that after getting prayed for, she is six months pregnant now. The SO said that he found no ‘forceful conversions’ taking place in the village, and that these people have done nothing.”

The officer told him and the others that he would keep the Christians in custody for one night and release them after their appearance before a judge the next day, he said.

“We returned home only to learn later that a group of people from the Hindu organizations reached the police station after we left and pressured them to charge the Christians severely,” Pastor Raj Kumar said.

Police registered a First Information Report (FIR No. 236) based on a written complaint from Prakash Paasi, chief of Daraura village. The High Court in Allahabad would grant the Christians bail in January based on Paasi’s deposition in favor of the accused Christians, Pastor Raj Kumar said.

“Prakash Paasi submitted a sworn affidavit in the court that stated that he was not in a proper frame of mind due to some domestic disturbance in his family, when some people came to his house and obtained his signatures on some documents that he had no idea about,” Pastor Raj Kumar said. “He also said that he later went and enquired of the people attending the prayer meeting and learned that there was no conversion taking place, but that it was a normal prayer meeting taking place in Kapil’s house.”

The Christians posted bail of 400,000 rupees (US$5,555) each, sources said.

They were charged under Indian Penal Code sections for promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, outraging religious feelings and inducing a person to believe that he will be rendered an object of the Divine displeasure, besides the charge under the religious institutions act. Under the Religious Institu­tions (Prevention of Misuse) Act, they were charged under Section 3, which prohibits a religious institution from promoting disharmony, feelings of enmity, hatred, or ill-will between different religious communities.

Offenses under the religious institutions act are cognizable, meaning police can make an arrest without a warrant, and non-bailable as per Section 7 of the Act. It is punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to 10,000 rupees (US$140).

“This case is not only the longest custody case in the year 2019, where the Christians have remained in jail for more than two months, but also a case where they have been strategically booked for ‘misuse of religious institutions for political and other purposes,’” Christian rights activist Dinanath Jaiswar told Morning Star News. “A lot of homework has been done before putting this section on the Christians.”

Christian leaders in Uttar Pradesh reacted strongly to the use of the Religious Institu­tions (Prevention of Misuse) Act.

“We had no clue as to what the Religious Institu­tions (Prevention of Misuse) Act meant,” Pastor Prakash told Morning Star News. “The police officials did not bother to explain or tell us what they have booked us under.”

A lower court initially rejected their application for bail. Morning Star News efforts to reach their attorney were unsuccessful.

According to the terms of the bail granted by the higher court, the three Christians must present themselves in court nearly every two weeks or whenever the court demands, Pastor Raj Kumar said.

“The three presented themselves before the Court on Feb. 6 and then on Feb. 20,” he said. “It is a very tedious procedure, and we do not know how many years it will take for them to prove their innocence.”

Since his arrest, Ram’s licence to run a government ration store in his village has been cancelled, Jaiswar said.

“It is heart-breaking that the only source of income of Kapil’s family has been snatched away from him,” Jaiswar told Morning Star News. “It was his livelihood.”

Hindu Pressure

As part of their regular visits to church members’ homes, pastors Kumar and Prakash had gone to Ram’s house on Nov. 26, where about 10 to 12 people were gathered for worship, when it was disrupted by members of the Hindu extremist Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Hindu Yuva Vahini (HYV).

The HYV is a Hindu youth militia founded in 2002 by Yogi Adityanath, now the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh.

At about 11:45 a.m., seven or eight Hindu extremists charged into the house and began to video record them on their mobile phones, Pastor Kumar said. The intruders harshly questioned the women, asking what they had received for becoming Christians, he said: “Are you given money for medical treatment? Are you promised free rations? What do they give you to make you follow their faith?”

“When they began to shout at us, Kapil asked them to leave his house, objecting to the hostility they created inside his house,” Pastor Kumar said.

When pastors Kumar and Prakash left Ram’s house, they found a large crowd waiting outside. Ram’s family spoke with the Hindu extremists for more than 20 minutes, and twice when the pastors tried to leave, the extremists snatched their motorbike keys from them.

“They blamed us for carrying out forced conversion and threatened to kill us and smash our faces,” Pastor Prakash said.

The extremists continued to record videos as they tried to make the pastors confess to forcible conversion.

“They argued with the members of Kapil’s family, trying to lead them into acknowledging that they have received some kind of monetary help or any other benefit to convert to Christianity,” Pastor Prakash told Morning Star News.

The Hindu extremists called police, who arrived and detained the two pastors and the homeowner. Pastor Kumar said he was shocked that police allowed the extremists to shoot video of officers interrogating the Christians.

Officers took them to Ranipur police station.

“When we were still sitting in the police station, some police personnel were sent to the village to investigate about the case, who returned to report that there was no conversion taking place,” Pastor Prakash said. “A police officer made his report and booked us under a single section of the law. He was about to set us free to go home around 9 in the night when a crowd that belonged to various Hindu organizations entered the police station. They began to pressure the officer, demanding that strict action should be taken against us.”

After spending the night in custody and appearing before the judge, the next afternoon Pastor Prakash asked the station officer when he would let them go.

“He responded that he is going to put us in jail,” Pastor Prakash said. “He said, ‘We are tired of what is going on in the state – the whole state is upside-down because of this conversion matter.’”

India is ranked 10th on the Open Doors’ 2020 World Watch List of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian. The country was 31st in 2013, but its position has worsened since Narendra Modi of the Bharatiya Janata Party came to power in 2014.

Hindu Extremists in Southern India Beat Christian Children, Accuse Worshippers

Hindu and Jain temples from seventh to ninth centuries in Pattadakal, Karnataka, India. (Wikipedia, Ms. Sarah Welch)

India (Morning Star News) – Hindu extremists in southern India who beat Christian children during worship on Jan. 19 and then filed a police complaint against the congregation left them with a warning.

“If we hear that you stepped out of your homes and told anybody about this, we will set your homes on fire and will burn you alive,’” some of the 20 assailants told Christians gathered for worship on the terrace of a home in Malasamudra village, Karnataka state, according to those present.

The Christians had begun worship at 7 a.m. when the radical Hindus came up the stairs to the terrace, unnoticed. Soon the small congregation saw the intruders taking photos and videotaping them, said Mary Bellary, who along with her husband Hanumanthappa Bellary was hosting the worship.

“They flashed camera lights at children, and we requested them to please go and not disturb the prayers,” Mary Bellary said. “But they continued taking pictures, videotaping us and passed comments, saying, ‘Look! Christians gathered here on the terrace to carry out conversions.”’

When Bellary and other women tried to stop them from taking video of the 12 children present, the intruders pushed them away, she said. The Christians asked them to leave, and the intruders put their hands on the women’s chests and pulled their sarees, tearing them, she said.

“They punched my 15-year-old son in his stomach, and other kids also got hurt,” she told Morning Star News. “They were kicked to the floor and were beaten up on their backs. My uncle and husband tried hard to protect the women and children, but those men were very aggressive and physically stronger than us.”

The neighbors only watched, the 32-year-old mother of three said.

“The children just kept looking at us crying for help,” Bellary said.

Complaint Filed against Christians

The attack and threat so terrified them, she said, that they did not leave their homes in Gadag District for the rest of the day. At about 7 p.m., officers from Gadag Town Police Station showed up with word that a complaint had been filed against them, she said.

“The police officer told us that we had attacked some people during Christian prayers that morning, and that they were injured and hospitalized,” Bellary said. “After attacking us on Jan. 19 morning, the Hindu extremists got themselves admitted in a hospital and filed a false complaint against us.”

When police summoned the Christians to the police station the next morning, they did not know what to do, she said.

“Our people were injured, yet we didn’t step out of our homes fearing for our lives, and there at the police station our attackers were influencing the police to frame us in cases,” Bellary told Morning Star News.

Michael Rosario, an allied lawyer with legal advocacy group Alliance Defending Freedom-India, along with Christian volunteer Johnson David, set out to Gadag to accompany the victims to the police station.

“We ensured that the injured received treatment at the nearest government hospital,” Rosario told Morning Star News. “Basavanappa Malingpur [Bellary’s uncle] had injuries on his head and leg and had to remain hospitalized for three days. The rest, the injured children and women, received first aid.”

By the time Rosario and David reached the police station on Jan. 20, the Hindu extremists and their supporters were already there. The inspector informed the Christians’ counsel that since police had already received a complaint from the village president – who had led the attack – and his cohorts the previous day, he had no option but to book cases against the Christians, David said.

Rosario said their discussion with police continued for some time.

“The inspector was trying to find fault with Christians for using their home as a worship place,” Rosario said. “I have reminded the officers of the various judgments delivered by the High Courts that there should be no objection against using a dwelling place as private worship place.”

The inspector acknowledged this point, but under immense pressure from the Hindu extremist mob he said he must arrest the Christians who could then be released on bail, Rosario said. Counsel countered that the Christians were laborers receiving only daily wages and could not afford bail bonds, he said.

“The Hindu extremists didn’t give up,” Rosario said. “They insisted that police file cases against a female member of the congregation who came to Christ from Islam.”

The mob pressured officers to arrest the convert from Islam under the Prevention of Atrocities Act, he said.

“This discussion with police officers and the Hindu extremist leaders went on till 11 p.m.,” the volunteer, David, told Morning Star News. “Finally, the leaders had themselves agreed that the Hindu extremist mob had attacked the Christians, and the police effected a compromise that cases will not be booked against either of the parties.”

Ostracized

The Bellary family has faced opposition before. In 2017 the Malasamudra Village Council announced that they had been ostracized from the community and village as long as they followed Jesus and would not be treated as one of the Dalit sub-caste, Bellary told Morning Star News.

About 70 kilometers (43 miles) away in Dharwad, similar attacks have taken place, David added. Illiterate Christian day-laborers don’t dare raise their voices against the assailants, he said.

“The BJP [Bharatiya Janata Party] formed the government in the state last year, and since then the safety of Christians in the rural parts of the state seems endangered,” David said.

Rosario recounted an incident in January 2015, when he and two pastor friends visited his in-laws in Chikmagalur. His wife, a convert from the Gowda community, and her uncle had invited the pastors to the uncle’s home in Chikmagalur to pray for his health, Rosario said.

“We were ambushed by upper-caste Hindu leaders from the Gowda and Reddy communities,” he said. “They had beaten us up in their vehicles and handed us to the police, falsely alleging that we had abused the Hindu gods and goddesses and had hurt their religious sentiments.”

They were booked under Section 295-A of the Indian Penal Code and held in custody for three days before they were released on bail, he said. The charges are still pending.

“That day I visited my in-laws’ hometown after around 10 years of marriage, and I could personally witness the hatred in their hearts against Christians,” Rosario said.

Karnataka recorded 27 incidents of hostilities against Christians in 2019, according to ADF- India’s annual report. Christians were targeted in a total of 328 cases throughout India in 2019.

“The increase in frequency and viciousness of the attacks against religious minorities in 2019, particularly Christians and Muslims, is a matter of grave concern,” Tehmina Arora, director of ADF-India, told Morning Star News. “No one should be targeted for their faith. Religious extremism is threatening India’s centuries-old culture of pluralism and religious tolerance. State authorities need to ensure that all persons are able to freely practice their faith without fear of mob violence or discrimination, in line with the various guidelines issued by the Supreme Court of India.”

India is ranked 10th on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2020 World Watch List of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian. The country was 31st in 2013, but its position has worsened since Narendra Modi of the BJP came to power in 2014.

Severe Attack in Northern India Devastates Families, Church

India (Morning Star News) – Before Pastor Jai Singh appeared before a judge in northern India and was jailed on false charges of luring people to convert, Hindu extremists had dragged him from house worship to a school where groups of six beat him in turns, he said.

“From the school, they took me to a Hindu temple and forced me to sit before the idols,” Singh said. “They told me that they ‘are policemen, we can make you admit whatever we want.’ They had beaten up my legs with wooden sticks and pulled my legs apart.”

He was wearing a long, white tunic called a Kameez that was soaked in blood from the beatings on Jan. 5 in Bichpari village, Sonipat District, about an hour north of Delhi.

“They forcefully undressed me and threw my Kameez away,” Pastor Singh told Morning Star News. “It was evening by the time they dropped me at Gohana police station. I was severely bruised and was howling in pain.”

The radical Hindus had assaulted him and other house-church worshippers after an attempt to attack their mother church in nearby Siwanka over Christmas was thwarted, sources said. The pastor, who struggles to provide for his family as a day-laborer, is still unable to walk due to the severity of the beatings, they said.

Police took Pastor Singh to a hospital, where he received an injection, then returned him to the police station. Soon Inspector Shri Bhagwan registered a First Information Report (FIR) against him, pastor Ram Kishan of Siwanka and three other unnamed persons based on a complaint by a Bichpari resident identified only as Ramesh, the pastor said.

The FIR falsely accused them, Naresh Singh and several other Christians of offering money to Hindus to lure them to convert to Christianity, he said. The next day, Jan. 6, he was presented before a judge and sent to judicial custody.

“Unknown persons in plainclothes were driving me to the court and then to the jail,” Pastor Singh told Morning Star News. “At first I suspected that they must not be a police officer as the persons were not in uniform. The journey from court to jail was torturous, as this person in plainclothes abused in vulgar Haryanvi language. He abused my family members, including my wife and children. I kept quiet and said in my heart, ‘Oh Lord, if it is in Your will, then let it be, but give me strength to endure this. I am weak. I need you.’”

An attorney with legal advocacy group Alliance Defending Freedom-India filed a petition for bail, and he was released on Jan. 7, he said.

“Even inside the jail, I was very afraid that I might have seizures – I was under medication, and the jail authorities did not allow me to take my medicines,” Pastor Singh said. “Now I’m in a very bad state. I can’t sit or stand or lie down straight on my back for five minutes. The marks of beatings are still all over my body. My legs feel very heavy and stiff, so that I can’t even stand on my feet.”

After he was treated at a hospital in Sonipat District, an undisclosed Christian organization has enabled him to receive treatment from a hospital in Delhi, he said.

Vinod Kumar, son of accused Pastor Ram Kishan of the mother church in Siwanka, said the same radical Hindu assailants had shown up at that congregation’s Christmas celebrations. Church members did not let them enter the premises.

“We kept watch that day and stopped them from causing any disturbance,” Kumar said. “They could not do anything and waited outside for a while for a chance to attack but, vexed at us restraining them, they left without causing any harm.”

On the first Sunday of 2020, the assailants then showed up at the Bichpari village house church and attacked Pastor Singh, home-owner Naresh Singh and his relatives.

“Their minor children also suffered injuries,” Kumar said. “Pastor Jai Singh is a native of Siwanka. He is not able to sit or stand or walk as of now. It seems there are internal injuries that would take time to heal. There was a crack in Pastor Singh’s right leg, and by God’s grace it is healing.”

Pastor Singh said a mob of 250 to 300 people initially surrounded the house during the Jan. 5 worship. Naresh Singh went out to find out what they wanted, and those inside suddenly heard the mob attacking him.

Before they could go outside to help him, about 30 assailants burst into the home and began shouting at them in foul language, Pastor Singh said. Naresh Singh’s female relatives tried to stop the radical Hindus from attacking Pastor Singh and were shoved away, injuring the women and children, the pastor said.

“Minor children of Naresh Singh and his brother also got injured,” Pastor Singh said. “Then they held me by my collar and dragged me outside the home.”

Accusing him and Naresh Singh of being responsible for the growing number of people converting to Christianity, the approximately 30 assailants beat them while the rest of the radical Hindus looked on, he said.

“They pushed me to the floor, and I could not understand who was kicking me, who was slapping or beating on my back,” Pastor Singh said. “As a huge crowd surrounded me, I could only see their hands and shoes kicking me. They picked me up from the floor and took me inside Singh’s home and told me that I should go with them, if not they would kill me there on the spot.”

Pushing him into a vehicle, the assailants ranted at him in foul language, he said.

“They uttered disgustful, caste slurs against my faith and community that I cannot repeat with my mouth,” Pastor Singh said.

At the school they beat him on his forehead close to his eyes, he said.

“My eyes got swollen. There was severe bleeding from my forehead,” he said. “The remaining members who were following us by motorbikes and other vehicles also reached the school, and they took turns to beat me. A batch of six assailants would beat me up at once, after that they would sit back and relax while the next batch of five to six continued the beating. I was howling in severe pain, and I do not remember for how long that continued.”

They tried without success to force him to falsely admit to luring Hindus to convert with money, he said.

Denying that he would ever offer people money to convert, the father of four began to weep as he said, “I am just a daily laborer – my children and family are leading a very difficult life. I do not have enough means to bring up my children, I can’t even provide them a nutritious meal.”

Afraid to Worship

Kumar, the pastor’s son in Siwanka, said Hindu extremism has increased in the area as the number of people putting their faith in Christ has grown.

“The Hindutva [Hindu nationalist] government is in power in the center as well as the state, and they have been elected twice consecutively,” he said. “They strongly believe that the rise in Christianity was possible ‘by giving money to convert,’ which is not the reality actually, but at the ground level people have been made to believe this narrative.”

A source said on condition of anonymity that high-caste Brahmins are the main opponents of Christianity in Haryana state, but they remain veiled by utilizing the Hindu extremist Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council), Bajrang Dal and allies to do their bidding.

The assailants of the house church in Bichpari were members of the VHP, Bajrang Dal and the Hindu extremist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), area Christians said.

“Earlier there was good strength of believers in Bichpari, but now they are very scared and backslidden due to the rising opposition,” Pastor Singh said.

Now only three families attend worship services, he said.

“I was doing the Lord’s work and also was working very hard to earn some money to feed my children,” he said, tears welling up in his eyes. “Now I have been made as fit for nothing.”

Ostracized

The Jan. 5 attack resulted in the closing of Naresh Singh’s shop at the market center in Bichpari.

“After the Jan. 5 attack on our home church, the owner of the shop called and told me to vacate the premises immediately,” Singh said. “It has been two weeks, and we don’t have any earnings since then.”

He had been earning 200 to 300 rupees (US$3-4) per day selling boiled eggs, he said.

“It was the only source of livelihood for my family,” Singh said. “In the shops, the villagers refuse to sell us daily necessities. We have been socially ostracized. Even the neighbors and friends in the village, who had long been our regular visitors, do not even look at us now. We were beaten up, but police registered cases against our people.”

Singh filed a complaint at Gohana Sadar police station, and officers registered an FIR against alleged assailants identified as Pappu Sarpanch, Sonu, Ravi, Sunil, Jagbir and Sarpanch of Jagsi village, and about 200 other unnamed persons, he said, adding that no action has been taken against them.

The FIR accuses them of disturbing religious assembly, voluntarily causing hurt, abduction and criminal intimidation under the Indian Penal Code, “but they are all roaming free,” Singh said. “Only Pastor Jai Singh spent three days in custody after getting beaten up brutally.”

India is ranked 10th on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2020 World Watch List of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian. The country was 31st in 2013, but its position grew worse each year after Narendra Modi of the Bharatiya Janata Party came to power in 2014.

Tonight on Persecution Watch: Violence Against Christians in India

(Voice of the Persecuted) Dear Intercessors, Again, we want to lift up two persecuted witnesses for the Lord and pray for Leah Sharibu and Alice that this year will be the year where they will be set free. And also pray for pastor Wang Yi to be released from Prison.

India

Population: 1.35 billion Christians 65 million

Continued violence against Christians and churches. Since the current ruling party took power in 2014, attacks have increased, and Hindu radicals believe they can attack Christians with no consequences. As a result, Christians have been targeted by Hindu nationalist extremists more and more each year. The view of the nationalists is that to be Indian is to be Hindu, so any other faith—including Christianity—is considered non-Indian. Additionally, in some regions of the country, converts to Christianity from Hinduism experience extreme persecution, discrimination and violence.

Because radical Hindu nationalists view followers of Jesus as alien to the nation, all Christians in India are suffering persecution. Driven by a desire to cleanse their country from Islam and Christianity, nationalists do not shy away from using extensive violence to achieve their goals.

Converts to Christianity from Hinduism bear the brunt of the Christian persecution in India and are constantly under pressure by the state, their community and their families to return to Hinduism (especially via campaigns knows as ghar wapsi, which means “homecoming”). These Christians are often physically assaulted and sometimes killed.

On June 19, 2018, five Christian women (aged 20 to 35) were performing a street play in Jharkhand when they were abducted and then gang raped in a forest. Police stated that the assault was also allegedly filmed on cell phones. On January 20, 2018, the body of Pastor Gideon Periyaswamy in Adaiyalachery (Kanchipuram District, Tamil Nadu) was found hung from the thatched roof of his house, a week after he complained to police about opposition from radical Hindus.

  •     Pray for Christian converts from Hinduism who are forcefully pressured to return to their national religion.

 

  •    Pray with Christians in India for God’s provision and protection as they preach the gospel in places = the states with anti-conversion laws.

 

  •    Pray for Christian girls placed under house arrest by their families because of their faith. Pray they would be encouraged in their faith and that their families would come to know the Lord.

 

  •    Pray to the Lord that He will exercise His power and bring about a change in government and that they will be open to religious liberty.

 

  •    Pray to the Lord for that pastors and teachers that train the saints will have unhindered acces into India.

 

  •    Pray that Christians Internet messages and websites will reach deep into the Hindu communities and will encourage Christians.

 

  •    Pray to the Lord that the believers will have courage, wisdom and boldness to reach out to Hindu neighbors.

 

  •    Pray to the Lord to give NGOs favor that they will be invisible to the authorities and can continue to provide spiritual and other support to believers.

 

  •     Pray to the Lord that believers will love and forgive their persecutors.

 

  •      Pray that the Lord will build His church by adding daily to the number of believers.

 

Many blessings,

Andy, Prayer Call Moderator, Persecution Watch

Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday

From any location on your phone

Time:

9:00 PM EST

8:00 PM CST

7:00 PM MST

6:00 PM PST

Call in number: 712 775-7035

Access Code: 281207#

Recommended: For those who may be subject to added charges for conference calls. Please download the app, it’s free!

MOBILE APP: Free Conference Call HD also provides a quick and easy way for you to dial into conference calls without having to remember the dial-in credentials. Save all of your conference call dial-in numbers and access codes using this free app. With the Free Conference Call HD you can instantly dial into a conference call via 3G/4G data network and or regular mobile carrier. Google Play link  or App Store – iTunes

What is Persecution Watch?
Persecution Watch is a U.S. national prayer conference call ministry that prays specifically for the global Persecuted Church. For over a decade, Blaine Scogin led this national network of believers who faithfully pray for the persecuted and the global harvest for the Kingdom of God. The group meets via a free call-in service every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday night at 9pm Eastern (please check your time zone). Blaine also served as Prayer Director for Voice of the Persecuted and our missions became one. The prayer mission of Persecution Watch is an important part of our own. With the passing of Blaine into glory on December 26, 2019, Voice of the Persecuted is committed to continue the prayer conference call for the persecuted along with our dedicated prayer warrior team.

On occasion, persecuted brothers and sisters have been invited on the call to share the trials they’re facing. The team serves to encourage them by washing their feet in Spirit led prayer. Time is often reserved for those on the call to ask questions. We believe this helps to gain a better understanding of the situation that persecuted Christians endure in their specific nations. Q&A also helps us to focus our prayers based on their current needs.

Persecution Watch also hosts callers who want to pray united from other nations. If your heart is perplexed by the sufferings of our persecuted brothers and sisters, you no longer need to pray alone. We welcome all who desire to pray for the persecuted church and consider it a joy to pray together with you. If you’re new to the call and can’t find your voice, listen in and pray silently or on mute. We are grateful and thank the Lord for bringing us all together to pray in agreement for our persecuted family in Christ. We can all be prayer warriors on this call!

 

Police in Uttar Pradesh, India, Most Harsh on Christians, Sources Say

 

Pastor taken into custody from house church in Lakhimpur Kheri District-YouTube Morning Star News

India (Morning Star News) – Police in northern India’s Uttar Pradesh state work in tandem with Hindu extremists to treat Christians and other religious minorities especially harshly, sources said.

“The UP police force is very different from the rest of India,” Dinanath Jaiswar, a volunteer with legal advocacy group Alliance Defending Freedom-India, told Morning Star News. “They are very brash in their dealings with Muslim and Christian minorities, and there have been several cases of violence in police custody, but by God’s grace we have tried our best to reach them on time, and even while in the clutches of the enemy, God protects His people.”

From April 2017 to February 2018, India’s National Human Rights Commission registered 365 cases of judicial and custodial deaths in Uttar Pradesh, according to The Indian Express; the next highest amount was 127 cases in West Bengal state.

“It does not take long for a police officer here to lose his temper and thrash a person in custody,” Jaiswar said.

Most cases reported against police stations in several Uttar Pradesh districts fell under the categories of torture, infliction of injury and grievous hurt, according to the National Crime Records Bureau.

“It has become a trend that a batch of Hindu extremists barge inside Christian homes and accuse them of proselytizing Hindus to Christianity,” Jaiswar said. “When Christians deny the accusations and restrain them from disrupting the prayers, they use the police force to take Christians into custody.”

ADF-India personnel in Uttar Pradesh are often called to rush to police stations to try to intervene before any charges are filed, ensure that Christians are safe and work to release them as soon as possible, he added.

“UP’s legal aid team works like a Rapid Action Force,” Jaiswar said. “We aim at immediate release of pastors in custody. If police extend the custody over the night, the next morning they would file the FIR [First Information Report], and the victims will be presented before the judicial magistrate and will be sent to judicial custody.”

Obtaining bail is a lengthier process, but ADF’s Uttar Pradesh Legal Aid Cell strives to arrange for immediate release on personal bonds, he said.

Pastor Surendra Vanwasi of Jeevan Marg Trust was leading Sunday worship at a home church in Karubir village, Mau District on Nov. 17 when police arrived and took him into custody. The station house officer at Chirraiyakot Police Station “was rash and adamant,” Jaiswar said.

“Tens of requests were put before the higher ranked police officials, and only then the SHO agreed to release Pastor Vanwasi,” he said. “In the guise of enquiry police had detained him, but thankfully no charges were filed.”

Similar case of detention was reported in Mirzapur District on the same day. A church leader identified only as Pastor Khaiya from Mizoram state was invited to Uttar Pradesh to deliver a message to a congregation in Mirzapur. By noon, a mob of upper-caste Hindus and Hindu extremists had surrounded the venue, Jaiswar said.

“They slapped Pastor Khaiya and handed him to police,” he said. “When we reached Jamalpur police station, the local believers informed us that Pastor Khaiya was taken to police station like a criminal. It is a Naxalite [Maoist rebel]-belt area, and the police station in Jamalpur is specially equipped to torture Naxal suspects. The police had locked up Khaiya in an underground cell.”

The ADF team used social media and called higher officials in the district in attempts to win immediate release, he said.

“The situation turned tense as the upper-caste leaders and Hindu extremists insisted the police officers level serious allegations of forced religious conversions under stringent sections of the Indian Penal Code,” Jaiswar said. “By later that evening, the SHO had finally agreed to release Pastor Khaiya on personal bail. We were forced to give it in writing that he would not be involved in any conversion activity in future.”

Youth Pastors Jailed

Youth pastors Om Prakash, 23, and Ajay Kumar, 20, were leading a worship service at the home of Kapildev Ram in Daraura village on Nov. 25 when the village president intruded into the house and ordered the Christians to stop, sources said.

“Ram’s sons did not allow the village president and his aides to attack the youth pastors,” the youth workers’ trainer, identified only as Pastor Ramjit, told Morning Star News. “They stood as defense and did not let the person touch the pastors. This made him angry, and he went and brought the police force with him and got the pastors and also Ram arrested.”

The youth ministry sends workers to 30 village house churches in four districts in Uttar Pradesh on weekdays. Leaders had sent Prakash and Kumar to Daraura village on Nov. 25, and the next day Ranipur police registered an FIR against them and Ram alleging promotion of enmity between religious groups, deliberately hurting religious sentiments, inducement by rendering an object of divine displeasure and other charges.

Lower court and District Sessions judges rejected their bail pleas. ADF-India’s attorneys have filed a bail petition in the High Court at Allahabad.

Ranipur Station House Officer Ashok Kumar Yadav noted in the Hindi-language case diary that neighbors were disturbed when the mob formed at Ram’s home.

“Our police team had reached it on time and urged them to disperse immediately,” Yadav wrote. “As our attempts to restore peace in the area had failed, we had to arrest the pastors to bring the situation under control.”

Pastor Ramjit said the youth pastors are facing mistreatment from heavy brutes in the district prison.

“When I visited them last week, they told me that under-trial prisoners in murder cases had put up fight and abused our boys in filthy language,” Pastor Ramji told Morning Star News. “They seem very frightened. Both their marriages have been set for summer, and their fiancées and families have been waiting for their release.”

‘You May Arrest Me’

When a mob of no fewer than 60 Hindu nationalists armed with hockey sticks stormed into a Christian’s home in Ghaziabad city, which straddles both Uttar Pradesh state and Delhi National Capital Region, and beat the homeowner and the pastor leading a Bible study, officers from Loni police station took both Christians into custody.

The assailants also vandalized the homeowner’s furniture, said Sanjay Mcgee of Indian Christian Assembly (Bharatiya Masih Mahasabha).

As it was late at night, Christians feared police would hold pastor Jagdish Marotiya and the homeowner overnight and charge them in the morning, Mcgee said. A Christian leader from the Delhi National Capital Region, Minakshi Singh, rushed to the police station and was there until midnight trying to persuade officers not to be misled by Hindu extremists.

“We had enough evidence of videos and photographs of the destruction the armed men had caused, and I was trying to reason with the officials as to why had not they taken any action against the assailants, and why the victims had been detained,” Singh told Morning Star News. “The argument went on for a very long time, and finally at midnight the police agreed release the Christians.”

In the area, called Bharat Nagar Society, about 25 Christian families refrained from putting stars outside their homes during Christmas season, terrified that they would be identified as Christians and targeted by Hindu fanatics, Mcgee said.

“When I visited the area on Dec. 3 after the attack on the home, there were security guards everywhere, and they stopped us from entering the colony,” he said. “I asked the guards where were they when a resident’s house was vandalized two days before, but they denied the attack. An elderly female member of the home church there told us that police had threatened [the homeowner’s] family not to pursue a case against the assailants.”

Good Shepherd Church in the Trilokpuri area came under attack a week before. On the second day of a three-day convention the church had organized, Nov. 23, more than 100 members of the Hindu extremist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh surrounded the site chanting, “Go back! Go back!” Singh told Morning Star News.

Higher police officials from the Mayur Vihar station reached the venue and ordered that the gathering must cease in order to restore peace, she said.

“As soon as I received this information, I rushed to Trilokpuri and met the assistant commissioner of police and told him that it is our constitutional right to pray to our God,” she told Morning Star News. “But the police official told me that it is not possible to let you continue Christian prayers, saying, ‘Who will take responsibility if the situation turns hostile?’ I told him that I will take the responsibility, ‘You may arrest me, but the convention should go on.”’

After long discussions on Nov. 23 and Nov. 24, police allowed them to continue as long as they refrained from using the sound system, Singh said. More than 200 policemen were deployed, and barricades were installed on four sides of the church building, she said.

“A mob of at least 200 Hindu extremists showed up outside the church premises and were shouting to the top of their lungs, ‘Har Har Mahadev [Shiva is everywhere],” she said. “We told the police that our people would remain calm, and there will not be any problem from our side, and you please control the mob outside the premises.

“By God’s grace, the final day of the convention was a success. The police also had the chance to hear the gospel and joyfully joined us for the meal after the prayer service.”

pastor prays with ADF-India team after his release from jail in Mirzapur, Uttar Pradesh, India in November 2019. (Morning Star News)

India is ranked 10th on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2019 World Watch List of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian. The country was 31st in 2013, but its position has been worse each year since Narendra Modi of the Bharatiya Janata Party came to power in 2014.

%d bloggers like this: