India’s Christians Under Attack
The number of violent attacks on Christians and churches in India increased over the summer months. World Watch Monitor lists (in chronological order) 18 incidents that happened from July, August and the first week of September; 16 of which took place in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Odisha, where “Anti-Conversion Laws” are in place:
1. School destroyed
When: July 4
Where: Dhupera, Seoni
The school built by Pastor Sumatlal Bihoniya was destroyed. Though the pastor has since fled the village, he still receives threats. Pastor Bihoniya’s attempt to lodge a complaint with local police was dismissed; he must now appeal to the district police instead.
2. Pastors beaten and robbed
When: July 16
Where: Leelatola, Rajendargram, Anuppur
Two pastors (Chetan Meravi and Bacchudas) were beaten and robbed at a bus stop by a Hindu man who accused them of forcefully converting people to Christianity.
3. Pastor arrested
When: Aug 9
Where: Padlava, Jhabua
Pastor Ramesh Basuniya was arrested in the midst of a church service during which a Hindu mob threw stones at the pastor and church members. Pastor Basuniya’s family attempted to post bail, but the police refused to accept it. The local newspapers printed accusations that the pastor threw stones at Hindus while they were departing for a pilgrimage.
4. Christians charged with ‘forced conversions’
When: Sep 5
Where: Amjhera, Dhar
Pastor Paras Bilwal and two congregants were forcibly taken to the police station by 50-60 local Hindus and charged with “forced conversion.”
5. Pastors threatened, church attacked
When: Sep 6
Local Hindus ordered three pastors (Suresh Mandloi, Dayal and Ramesh Masaniya) to stop preaching, and filed a complaint against them with the village chief. The pastors also went to the police, but found that a case had already been filed against them. The pastors then decided to stop holding church services, but the church members decided do so anyway. A mob of around 150 people assembled and assaulted the believers. Fourteen church members were then arrested for “luring people to Christianity.”
6. Pastors beaten and charged with ‘forced conversions’
When: Sep 6
Where: Singpur, Bargat, Seoni
Two Pastors, Sunny Oman, 50, and John Alexander, 55, were beaten by a mob of around 80 Hindu locals who burst in on a church service. They were then taken to the police station and arrested on charges of “forced conversion.”
7. Pastor attacked and abducted, family flees
When: July 7
Where: Ketulnaar, Bijapur
Pastor Bhima, 49, was attacked and adducted by Naxalites (communist guerrillas) while conducting a church service. Although his hands were tied and he was taken into the forest, he managed to escape. Unable to find him, the Naxalites instead threatened to kill his family members if they didn’t leave the village. The next day, all 16 family members fled the village.
8. Christians thrown out of village
When: July 12
Where: Nawagad, Jaitalkhar, Kondagoan
A community meeting was held to discuss six women who had converted from Hinduism to Christianity. After the meeting, community leaders told the women to stop going to church. Two of the women agreed, but four (Savitri and Lalita Korram, and Phulo and Subai Netam) refused. The villagers, including members of their own families, beat the women and ordered them to leave the village. They initially hid in the house of a fellow Christian, but decided to leave the village after being found.
9. Church attacked, Christians beaten
When: July 18
Where: Piprod, Raipur
A group of 40-50 Hindu extremists disrupted a Christian conference, complaining that the Christians are “luring people to Christianity.” The angry mob surrounded Pastor Sushant Gyanic and demanded that he renounce his faith. When Pastor Gyanic refused, he was beaten by the mob. Other church members were also beaten and their vehicles vandalized.
10. Christians beaten, threatened
When: Aug 8
Where: Devgaon, Dhanora
The village’s 35 Christians were summoned to a community meeting where they were accused of “luring people to Christianity.” Approximately 500 villagers attended the meeting, claiming that the gods are not happy with the village because the Christians don’t worship them. The group threatened to thrown the Christians out of the village and prevent them from harvesting their crops if they continue to practice Christianity. The Christians refused to stop and were beaten.
11. Christian killed
When: Aug 12
Where: Gudsakal, Bhairamgarh, Bijapur
Naxalites killed Sukhdev Negi, a Christian who became village chief, in front of his wife and three children. His neighbors tried to save him, but were beaten, as well. The family filed a complaint with police, but no action has been taken against the murderers.
12. Family not allowed to bury Christian in village
When: Aug 13
Where: Sulega, Narayanpur
When an elderly Christian woman, Jankon Bai Juri, passed away, villagers refused to allow her family to bury her body in the village because she was a Christian and did not give money to Hindu festivals. But the next day, the police and media intervened and her family was allowed to bury her in the village.
13. Christians thrown out of village
When: Aug 25
Where: Nawagad, Jaitlkhar, Kondagaon
The local villagers expelled six Christians (including three sisters – Lalita, Tija and Tejai Mandavi) from their homes in the village for converting to Christianity. They had been threatened with expulsion ever since accepting Christ three years ago, but on August 25 the threats were carried out.
14. Christian killed
When: July 5
Where: Kesara, Mohana, Gajapati
Purna Mallick was killed by a mob after the fatal illnesses of two people in the village were blamed on Mallick’s Christian faith. After his death, relatives bathed Mallick’s five children in cow dung as an act of ritual purification.
15. Christian couple killed
When: July 26
A Christian couple, Dhubaleswar (50) and Bhubudi (45) Nayak, were allegedly killed by security forces while speaking to their son on the phone.
16. Pastor killed
When: Aug 15
Where: Telarai, Malkangiri
A group of Naxalites killed Pastor Gurumurthy Madi, 29, after he refused to hand over a fellow pastor and former Naxalite who had converted to Christianity.
17. Pastor sexually assaulted and stabbed
When: Aug 23
Where: Batala, Gurdaspur
Female Pastor Rani Gil was sexually assaulted and stabbed by Sikh extremists. In a separate incident, another church leader was assaulted and a mob urinated all over the church, including the cross.
18. Church attacked
When: Aug 14-16
Where: Pimpri-Kalewadi Bridge, Kalewadi
Extremists burst in on a prayer gathering, beat the Christians, and cut off the church’s electricity. The next day, the pastor installed security locks on the door, but a larger group of extremists arrived and forced their way in, again beating the Christians present. The church pastor filed a case with police who provided protection for the third day of their gathering.
Father, “You alone are holy, and all the nations will come and worship you because your judgments have been revealed.” (Rev. 15:4) In Matthew 28, Jesus commissioned us to, “…disciple people in all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything that I’ve commanded you.” And, He promised his presence with us, saying, “I am with you each and every day until the end of the age.” We thank You for Your presence with us and that You are growing Your church in India. We pray for Your servants there as they boldly proclaim the Name of Christ in the face of great pressure to turn back to the false religions from which they have come. Strengthen them in Your Word; grant discernment as they respond to pressure with godly wisdom and courage; protect them, body and soul; and refresh them daily with Your presence and blessing. In the Name of Jesus, the true vine to which we cling, Amen.