July 29 – Pastor Accused of Forceful Conversion

Chhattisgarh – Police in Bilaspur, Kawardha district on July 29 arrested Pastor Diwarkar Kumar after an attorney along with Hindu extremists filed a complaint against him of forceful conversion. A source told Compass that on July 28 Rani Matle visited a lawyer for help in submitting a legal request to the church stating her wish to attend a seminary. Another lawyer, Naval Kishore Pandey, learned that Believers’ Church Pastor Diwaker Kumar had advised her to do so and contacted a local Hindu extremist group, which filed a complaint against Kumar of forceful conversion. Subsequently police took Kumar and Matle into custody for questioning, the source said. Matle told police that there was no forceful conversion and stated that she willingly chose to follow Christ, and police released the pastor without charges. The next day, however, police summoned Kumar, Matle and her father to the station and forced Bharat Matle to sign a First Information Report (FIR) against Kumar “for deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings or any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs,” the source said. The FIR also cited sections 3 and 4 of the Chhattisgarh law outlawing forcible and fraudulent conversion. The pastor was sent to Pandariya Jail and was released on bail on Aug. 5.

July 15 – Prayer Meeting Disrupted

Madhya Pradesh – Hindu extremists in Dewihar, Bajna, Ratlam on July 15 barged into a prayer meeting conducted by a Christian convert from Hinduism, damaging a roof and ransacking the house, stealing 20,000 rupees (US$440), some silver and five kilograms of corn. The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) reported that they entered Suresh Maida’s house and verbally abused those at the gathering for their faith in Christ. The Christians filed a police complaint, according to GCIC, but at press time police had made no arrests.

July 14 – Pastor Arrested

Uttar Pradesh – Police in Katra Divan Kheda, Dhagpur, Unnoa on July 14 arrested pastors Om Prakash, Ganga Prasad, Premshankar, Desh Kumar and one identified only as Vinod of the New India Church of God for leading a prayer meeting in Prakash’s home. The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) reported that the Hindu radicals ordered Prakash and his family to give up their faith in Christ and stop the services in their home. Police along with the Hindu extremists had earlier threatened Prakash’s wife, Uma, and her three grown daughters if they continued in their faith, according to the GCIC. The church subsequently stopped Christian activities in the area.

July 8 – Hindu Woman Beats Daughter-In-Law

Orissa – Hindu extremists in Banapur, Khurda, on July 8 harassed a Christian family for their conversion from Hinduism to Christ, ending in a Hindu woman beating her Christian daughter-in-law. The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) reported that after Satyaban Nayak and his family began to trust Christ as Lord and Savior and were healed from physical ills, Nayak’s mother strongly opposed her son’s worship of Christ and warned him to either forsake Christianity or be deprived of his birthright; she also told him she might commit suicide if he and his family did not deny Christ. When this failed, according to the GCIC, she planned a village meeting or “panchayat”  with area hard-line Hindus so that the community would pressure him into forsaking his faith, but the village head questioned him and his wife about their faith in Christ and found them guilty of no wrongdoing. Nayak’s mother took a firewood log from a burning furnace and began beating her daughter-in-law in front of the crowd, cursing and verbally abusing her, knocking her to the ground as the extremists demanded the family’s expulsion from the village, the GCIC reported, adding that Nayak’s wife, Sarojini, continued to pray and praise the Lord amid the beatings. As her mother-in-law continued to deal her painful blows, Sarojini prayed louder, praising God with calls of “Halleluiah” and asking forgiveness for her, according to the GCIC. The village head and some villagers rescued the Christians.

Socio-economic Boycott in Orissa

Orissa – Hindu extremists in Sundergard district on April 13 held a Christian family captive, imposing a socio-economic boycott on them and other Christians for helping Christian neighbors rebuild houses burned in 2008 violence. The Global Council of Indian Christians reported that Hindu extremists laid siege to Keshav Digal’s house in Bodimunda village, and held his family captive, including four women, for one night. Announcing the boycott, the extremists said they would fine shopkeepers who sold goods to him and other Christians. Subsequently, all truck owners refused to transport goods to Christians, as the Hindu extremists had already damaged one truck Digal had leased. The GCIC reported that police did nothing to help Digal’s family even after they arrived, though Superintendent of Police Praveen Kumar said a case had been registered and was under investigation. Naveen Nayak, a local Christian leader, said that no vehicles were even allowed to bring Christians to hospitals, according to the GCIC. Another village resident, Joseph Digal, said, “When I brought housing materials in a rented tractor, the vehicle was damaged. Police filed a case only when the superintendent of police was informed about it.” At least 97 area Christian families whose houses were damaged during the 2008 violence were trying to rebuild their dwellings after the state government released initial funds for repairs. – MS

May 1, 2011 – India Briefs: Recent Incidents of Persecution

Vision IndiaMaharashtra, India, April 29 (CDN) — A group of Hindu extremists on April 24 disrupted the Easter celebrations of Christians at Dasturipada in Palgha, attacking them with clubs. One unidentified tribal Christian sustained a fractured bone in his hand, reported the Global Council of Indian Christians. The attack came three days after a mob disrupted a Maundy Thursday prayer service on April 21 at Devkuppada in Palghar. No arrests have been made in either incident. Following the April 21 attack, police were deployed in large numbers at Devkuppada, near Dasturipada. “Ever since a newspaper carried a report on mass conversions, tribals are being assaulted,” Abraham Mathai, vice-chairman of the Maharashtra state minorities commission, reportedly said.  The All India Catholic Union reported one of the tribal Christians as saying, “I have not stepped out of my house since the attack on Maundy Thursday. We are living in fear.”

Karnataka – Hindu extremists on April 22 stormed a Good Friday service at Muttaldinni village in Bagalkot district and ordered the congregation to convert to Hinduism. The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) reported that the demand by about 50 club-wielding Hindu extremists led to heated arguments, and that the assailants told pastors Gurappa Powar and Ashok Motilal Powar to apply Hindu symbols to their foreheads and offered them 10,000 rupees ($US223) to convert to Hinduism. The pastors declined, saying they believed only in Jesus Christ. The Hindu extremists beat them – Gurappa Powar later received hospital treatment for his injuries – tore Bibles and hymn books, and filed a false police complaint against them of forceful conversion. The GCIC reported that local police refused to help the Christians, but that eventually Sub-Inspector Shankar Rathode helped to bring calm.

Maharashtra – Police on April 21 arrested six Christians on a complaint of alleged fraudulent conversion of Hindu tribal people in Thane district. The Indian Express reported that Vincent Benedict, Alfansoi Davre, Cyger J. D’Souza, Santia Manvel D’Souza, Solomon Shinde and Hari Rama were arrested soon after scores of tribal Hindus protested in front of the Palghar police station. Santosh Laxman of Deokop village had filed a complaint accusing them of repeatedly coming to their village and preaching on the “benefits” of conversion, after which many had converted. The Christians were arrested under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, including one for “deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings or any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs.” The Christians were released on bail the next day.

Kerala – Hindu extremists on April 20 verbally abused Christians and beat them for distributing New Testaments and gospel tracts in Mudakolly, Sultanbathery. The Global Council of Indian Christians reported that at about 12:30 p.m., Hindu extremists interrupted an evangelist identified only as Joseph and three other Christians as they were offering people gospel tracts. The Hindu extremists suddenly rushed the Christians, destroyed the literature, struck them and tore their clothes. The Christians did not suffer serious injuries.

Orissa – Hindu extremists in Sundergard district on April 13 held a Christian family captive, imposing a socio-economic boycott on them and other Christians for helping Christian neighbors rebuild houses burned in 2008 violence. The Global Council of Indian Christians reported that Hindu extremists laid siege to Keshav Digal’s house in Bodimunda village, and held his family captive, including four women, for one night. Announcing the boycott, the extremists said they would fine shopkeepers who sold goods to him and other Christians. Subsequently, all truck owners refused to transport goods to Christians, as the Hindu extremists had already damaged one truck Digal had leased. The GCIC reported that police did nothing to help Digal’s family even after they arrived, though Superintendent of Police Praveen Kumar said a case had been registered and was under investigation. Naveen Nayak, a local Christian leader, said that no vehicles were even allowed to bring Christians to hospitals, according to the GCIC. Another village resident, Joseph Digal, said, “When I brought housing materials in a rented tractor, the vehicle was damaged. Police filed a case only when the superintendent of police was informed about it.” At least 97 area Christian families whose houses were damaged during the 2008 violence were trying to rebuild their dwellings after the state government released initial funds for repairs.

Survey of Christians in India Sets Off Alarm Bells

NEW DELHI, April 29 (Compass Direct News) – An attempt by police in India’s Madhya Pradesh to survey the state’s Christian minority came to light this month and left church leaders calling for a federal investigation into alleged religious profiling. Dr. John Dayal, secretary general of the All India Christian Council, called for a National Commission for Minorities probe into the survey, which sought data on where Catholics and Protestants live, their economic status, and details of Christian-operated schools, including sources of income and whether they get foreign funding. Police later withdrew the controversial survey after Christian leaders approached state Director General of Police S.K. Rout, who denied any knowledge of it. “The survey was a mere goof-up by lower-rung officials,” Rout reportedly said. In a statement to the BBC he added, “Though police collect such information periodically to ensure protection to minority communities in the state, the way this survey was ordered was incorrect.” Christian leaders remained largely upset and demanded a central government investigation. “We do not believe the police pretext that they want to know the locations to protect the Christians,” Dayal told Compass. “All these questions about funding of churches and missions are absolutely illegal . . . The blame for all this rests squarely with the chief minister of the state and his home minister, who are acting at the behest of the RSS [the Hindu extremist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh] to which they both belong.”

April 26, 2011 – India Briefs: Recent Incidents of Persecution

India Briefs: Recent Incidents of Persecution
By Mahruaii Sailo and Binaifer Wadia
Karnataka, India, April 25 (Compass Direct News) – Police forced a pastor to stop leading worship services after Hindu extremists on April 22 disrupted his Good Friday service in Nandi Tavere village, Davengere district, and falsely accused him of forcible conversion. The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) reported that Pastor Umesh Nayak of Calvary Bethel Church was leading worship at about 11 a.m. when nearly 15 extremists stormed the church, snatched Bibles from the congregation and tore them up. A GCIC coordinator told Compass that the Hindu extremists chased away most of the congregation except for the pastor and six other church members, who remained locked inside the building. When informed of the attack, GCIC officials intervened at the Malai Bennur police station, which sent officers and released the Christians and then took them into custody for questioning. Police released Pastor Nayak at about 4:30 p.m. after he signed a statement to refrain from leading worship services in the village. – BW
Tamil Nadu – Under cover of darkness, Hindu extremists from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) on April 17 torched Grace Good News Vision Church (GGNVC) after threatening the pastor with harm during an earlier Sunday morning service if the congregation persisted in worship. The Global Council of Indian Christians reported that the extremists in Chinnanandanam village, Kanyakumari district, had been harassing a GGNVC pastor identified only as Muthuswamy, alleging forcible conversion. On March 24, officials from the Suchendran police station had forced Muthuswamy to give a written statement that he would stop church services, and on March 27, RSS extremists had destroyed the church compound’s gate and wall. The morning of April 17 the Hindu extremists stormed the church service, stopped worship and threatened Muthuswamy and the congregation with harm if they continued meeting – and hinted that they would stir up anti-Christian carnage like that of Orissa state in 2008. At around 8:30 p.m. that night, they burned down the church building; at press time, no arrests had been made. – BW
Haryana – On April 17 in Samalkha, Sonipat, Hindu extremists from the Bajrang Dal accused the pastor of Sacred Assembly Fellowship of luring people to convert to Christianity and warned him to lead no more worship meetings under threat of harm. Pastor Satyam, who goes by a single name, reported to Compass that about 35 Hindu extremists called him out of a church meeting and took hold of his arm. Church members maintained that no one had been lured to convert to Christianity, that they would boldly stand by the pastor and that regular worship meetings would continue. The Evangelical Fellowship of India assisted the pastor in filing a complaint against the assailants. – MS
Karnataka – State police on April 11 detained and fined a pastor in Ombathuguligrama, Kolar district after Hindu nationalists belonging to the Bajrang Dal made false complaints about forcible conversion activities at a three-day prayer service. The Global Council of Indian Christians reported that an independent pastor identified only as Timothy, along with Pastor Srinivas Devaputra and Daniel Venkatappa, organized the prayer service for April 11-13. After the conclusion of the first day’s session at 9 p.m., officials from the Bangarapete police station came to the site after intolerant Hindus falsely complained of forcible conversion and took Timothy, Venkatappa and two guest speakers to the police station for more than three hours of interrogation. The Evangelical Fellowship of India reported that the Christians were released without charges after police forced them to state in writing that they would conduct no further prayer meetings and imposed a fine of 4,000 rupees (US$88) on them. – BW
Karnataka On April 6 in Uttara Kannada, Hindu extremists burned a pastor’s field because he refused to heed their warnings to refrain from leading worship meetings. The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) reported that prior to the incident, the Hindu extremists had threatened Pastor Prakash Francis Siddi with harm if he continued to conduct worship meetings in his home. The intolerant Hindus burned the pastor coconut’s grove, fruit orchards and a field, though area Christians were able to douse the fire before it reached his house. Police advised the pastor not to file a complaint or risk greater retaliation by the extremists, reported the GCIC. – MS
Andhra Pradesh – A Hindu extremist leader falsely accused Christians in Anantha Varan, Guntur, of destroying Hindu idols and stopped their worship service on April 4. The All India Christian Council (AICC) reported that area Christians were about to construct a church building on land donated by the Andhra Pradesh government when Hindu extremist leader P. Narashima accused them of destroying idols of Hindu goddesses in a nearby temple and stopped their worship. The AICC reported that Narashima fabricated the story because he owned a stone-crushing factory and wanted the Christians’ land for his business. Officers took the church pastor, identified only as Ahronu, and other church members to a police station for questioning. Area Christian leaders intervened, asking the chief inspector of police to restore ownership of the land to the Christians. – MS

Easter Outreach Prayer Request

We would like to request you kindly pray for the Easter Sunday outreach.  We have prayerfully planned to present a drama at a church in Odisha.  The dramatization of Jesus’ death and resurrection will be presented over a two hour period. Our House of Hope children will also perform a program of music that evening.

We have chosen a church which was demolished during the persecution in 2008 as the site for the drama.  There will be more than one thousand Hindu people gathered for the program.  It is our sincere request that you kindly pray so that our petition to the government officials will be granted and for peace and God’s protection.  Our desire is to present the Gospel of light through drama and songs to those who are held in the prison of spiritual darkness.

April 17 – Recent Incidents of Persecution in India

Karnataka, India, April 15 (CDN) — Police on April 10 arrested a pastor and other Christians of the New India Church in Mysore after some 25 Hindu extremists from the Sreeram Sena attacked their Sunday service, accusing them of forcible conversions, reported the Mathrubhumidaily. Pastor Vinod Chacko was leading the service when the Hindu nationalists barged into the church, stopped the prayer service and complained to police of alleged forcible conversions. The Global Council of Indian Christians reported that the extremists along with police detained the worshippers inside the church building, including 20 women and 10 children, taking down personal details about them and asking them whether they were paid money or otherwise lured to attend. Police also seized vehicles belonging to the church and those attending the service. Police charged Pastor Chacko, his wife Asha and others identified only as Sabu, Simon and Sayazu under section 295A of the Indian Penal Code with “deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings.”

New Delhi – A mob of about 150 Hindu extremists on April 9 attacked a Christian worship meeting in Bhajanpura, East Delhi, beating Christians with clubs and stones, including women and children. Pastor Solomon King told Compass that the Assembly of God church organized an open-air “Festival of Deliverance” meeting at which he was speaking; there were about 150 people in the arena when he arrived with 40 choir members. After the meeting began at about 6 p.m., some present suddenly shouted “Jai Shri Ram [Praise Lord Ram]” and started beating the Christians. Two Christians identified only as Prabhu and Abhisek sustained head injuries and received hospital treatment. Pastor King, his wife and other Christians also suffered bruises. The intolerant Hindus also destroyed furniture, a sound system, a generator and some Christians’ vehicle. The Christians had received permission from government officials to conduct the worship meeting, and five police officers were on duty to protect it; the Hindu extremists also severely beat them. The attack lasted for about an hour before police reinforcements arrived, and the extremists fled. Police were able to arrest two of the assailants.

Madhya Pradesh – An enraged mob of Hindu extremists on April 7 stormed into the prayer meeting of a Christian Assembly house church shouting anti-Christian slogans and filed a police complaint of forceful conversion against those present in Sagar. The Hindu extremists accused Pastor Joy Thomas Philip of forceful conversion, Pastor C.P. Mathew of Bhopal told Compass. Police arrived and took Pastor Philip and three other Christians into custody for questioning but claimed it was a protective measure. After area Christian leaders’ intervention, the Christians were released on bail on April 9.

Karnataka – Mulki Circle police officials on April 4 forcibly took church documents from Hebron Assembly Church in Mulki and told the pastor not to allow any Hindus to enter. The Global Council of Indian Christians reported that officials identified only as Inspector Shivaprakash and Sub-Inspector Neelakanta, along with five police officers, verbally abused Pastor I.D. Prasanna and harshly denigrated church activities. Police officials questioned Pastor Prasanna for three hours, telling him what church activities he can and cannot undertake, and threatening to close the church if he disobeyed. They also ordered the pastor to give detailed information about the families that attended the church service.

Karnataka – Police in Shimago on April 3 detained Pastor Abraham K.G. and a Christian identified only as Eerappa for their faith in Christ. The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) reported that Hindu extremists led by area Bajrang Dal member Subbraya Shetty interrupted the worship meeting of the Jehovah Nizzi church and warned them to stop meeting. The extremists had been harassing the pastor since March 27, reported the GCIC. As the April 3 service started at about 10:30 a.m., a sub-inspector from the Hosanagara police station arrived in a Jeep with three other police officers to make the arrests. When the Christians asked about the reasons, the officials said without basis that the Christians were using abusive language. Later that evening, police released the Christians without charges after taking a statement from them pledging that they would conduct no future worship meetings – and that they should leave the area.