Flickr / Al Jazeera English / Creative Commons
An Indian couple, who has been married for only five days, had their marriage forcibly annulled by police after backlash from Hindu nationalists. The couple, Joseph Pawar and Ayushi Wani, was arrested in Gujarat after complaints that Pawar, a Christian, had lured his Hindu bride into marriage.
This latest incident adds to the pressure on Narendra Modi, the new prime minister of India, who is accused in a new report of remaining silent about the recent increase in violence towards Christians and other religious minorities.
More than 500 people took part in a four-hour protest in New Delhi on Sept. 27th during which the report “100 days under the new regime – the state of minorities” was released by a group of Indian religious leaders, accusing Modi of remaining silent in the face of 600 separate incidents targeting religious minorities since his landslide election victory in May. The 92-page report was endorsed by 33 groups, representing different religious minorities and secular groups.
“The environment has degenerated into one of coercion, divisiveness, and suspicion. This has percolated to the small towns and villages of rural India, severing bonds forged in a dialogue of life over the centuries,” the statement read. “The attacks have assumed alarming proportions.”
Bishop John Simon of Believers Church noted that, “Christians have done much admirable work in almost every social sphere, including health and education. Our contribution needs no elaboration. We have to get united in order to fight for our rights.”
More than 600 incidents targeting religious minorities were cited in the report. These incidents, which occurred between May and September, took place mainly in areas that have held, or soon will hold, legislative elections.
“The Christian community, its pastors, congregations and churches, were targets of mob violence and impunity in dozens of cases in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh (states),” said the report, which was compiled by several committees comprised of lawyers, activists and others. The press statement summarizing the report claimed that anti-minority forces have set dates, including Christmas 2014, to “cleanse” various areas of Muslims and Christians, with the assistance of police. It also reported that there have been, “attempts at religious profiling of Christian academic institutions, and their students” in New Delhi.
On the eve of the New Delhi protest, a church was torched at Pakritola Ghutas village in Mandla district of central Madhya Pradesh state. The police dismissed it as the act of “inebriated” hooligans who broke into the church and set fire to religious books, furniture, musical instruments and the altar.
Source: World Watch Monitor
Father, we pray for Joseph and Ayushi; their marriage union severed as a result of political upheaval. We ask that You would reunite them in marriage, and cause them to be a great blessing of faith to generations to come. As the nation of India sorts through the results of this year’s election, we pray Your intervention on behalf of Christians, who along with Muslims and other minorities, are experiencing injustice, beatings and attacks. Protect them, Father, and restore true justice in this land. While our archenemy Satan would use this new regime to destroy Your Church, we thank You for the sure hope that You will instead take what is meant for harm and use it for good, building and strengthening Your Church! We pray that You will grant church leaders both wisdom and courage as they sort through the political unrest, and seek ways to respond in godly ways. In the name of Jesus, our rock of strength in the tumult of the world, Amen.