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Two Attacks Prompt Christians to Stop Meeting at Indian Church

February 6, 2013 by Open Doors in General

Two Attacks Prompt Christians to Stop Meeting at Indian Church

In Tamsai, a rural village 20 miles east of Mumbai, a fragile calm prevails between the Christians and Hindus living there. In just over a month, there have been two reports of attacks by Hindus on Christians, who have responded by agreed to stop holding meetings in a prayer hall.

The first attack came on December 30, according to a World Watch Monitor report, when about 20 attackers burst in on Christians gathered for worship, said church member Bharat Patel. The intruders “shouted that there is no place for worship meeting in the village for Christians, and if we want to pray, we should all go to Mumbai. (They) tore bibles and broke musical instruments and stared to beat us up,” he said. The hour-long assault ended when area Christian leaders intervened and took the victims to the police to report the incident. The police, however, were of little help, according to Catholic Christian Secular Forum (CCSF), a Christian-rights group based in Mumbai.

Ravindra Yadav, a pastor in a neighboring area, said Christian men came seeking shelter because of death threats from the militants. “Most of the Christians fled the area in fear leaving behind their wives and children after the extremists threatened to kill all them if they do not renounce Christ,” he said. Those who remained in the village were forbidden to fetch water from the public well or gather firewood, he said. “The Hindu extremists even threatened to cut off our ration card,” Patel said. Villagers need ration cards to buy rice, sugar, wheat, and other staples at reduced prices.

The Catholic Christian Secular Forum (CCSF) brought the incident to the attention of Maharashtra Home Minister R.R. Patil, who instructed the state’s director general of police to launch a formal inquiry.
The police arranged a meeting during which the extremists agreed to stop their social boycott of the Christians, restoring their access to water and other community services. For their part, “the Christians agreed to conduct prayer meetings in their homes even though the Christians said that they had the relevant land records for the prayer hall,” Joseph Dias, general secretary of CCSF, told World Watch Monitor.

The truce lasted one day.

At about 2 p.m. on January 14, three Christian women were washing clothes in a public well. Nearby, a 12-year-old held a mobile phone that was playing a gospel song. Other villagers within earshot protested that “such songs should not be played within their hearing range,” Dias said. Later, about 50 people gathered near the houses of the three women, summoned them from their homes, and started beating them.

According to Dias, the Christians were attacked because the Hindu extremists did not like their worship and because they refused to partake in Hindu idol worship. Tensions were already elevated because some Hindus in the area were discovering Christ. “There were reports of healings, villagers giving up alcohol and not socializing with the other villagers,” he said. “Instead the new converts spend time reading the Word and discussing it, or in praise and thanksgiving. Many also went to nearby villages to share how God had blessed them.”

In India, “one of the most prominent attackers of the Christian minority are religious militants, namely Hindu nationalists, who claim that every Indian has to be Hindu,” according to the World Watch List. “This ideology also has firm roots and strong support in many government structures as in the police. The Christian minority therefore never counts on fair treatment and is discouraged to claim their rights.”

Father, we pray for Your people in India where there is conflict with the majority Hindu population. We praise You for those who have turned from idolatry and licentious living to Christ and holiness. We pray Your protection over Christians who have experienced attacks; we pray for healing for them. We also pray for them to be able to worship you freely. Grant them godly wisdom that they might live in peace with their Hindu neighbors. In the name of Jesus, our help. Amen.

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