India Briefs: Recent Incidents of Persecution
By Mahruaii Sailo
Tamil Nadu, India, December 30 (Compass Direct News) – Police arrested a Christian after Hindu extremists on Dec. 22 accused him of forceful conversion in Nagarcoil. The Global Council of Indian Christians reported that Hindu extremists accused Sagaya Dass of forceful conversion after he and students from SP Hindu College organized a Christmas program. The extremists filed a police complaint at the Kottar police station. Dass was released on bail the same day after the intervention of area Christian leaders.
Tamil Nadu – Hindu extremists on the evening of Dec. 22 burned down a church building in Kurinjipadi, Vallalar Nagar, Kadaloor district. The Global Council of Indian Christian reported Hindu extremists had threatened Pastor K .Solomon and other church members, and that they destroyed the building to stop Christmas and New Year’s celebrations.
Madhya Pradesh – On Dec. 21 police filed forcible conversion charges against Christians after their Hindu extremist accusers from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh beat them in Nehru Nagar, Indore. The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) reported that pastor Dilip Wadia of Light Giving Church went to the house of Kailash Gormeys for a prayer meeting and to watch the “Jesus Film.” One of the 24 other people present belonged to the RSS and soon informed other extremists, who surrounded the house, according to the GCIC. After the extremists attacked them, the Christians went to the police station to file a complaint, only to find out that officers had filed a First Information Report against them under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, including Section 323 for “voluntarily causing hurt.” Police also took down a complaint against the extremists for injuring or defiling a place of worship with intent to insult religion. At press time police were attempting to broker an agreement between the two parties.
Karnataka – Police arrested a pastor after Hindu extremists beat him and stopped his church’s Sunday worship service on Dec. 18 in Pillanna Garden, near Lingarajpuram, Bangalore. The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) reported that about 200 Hindu extremists barged into the Agape Bible Church service and attacked pastors Reuben Sathyaraj and Perumal Fernandes. At the time church members “were only being given baptism to confirm their membership to the church, as part of a regular year-end program,” according to the statement of one of the church leaders, reported GCIC. Nearly 200 Hindus outside the church premises chanted slogans accusing the Christians of forced and fraudulent conversions before beating the pastors and other Christians. Police took 20 people alleged to have been forcibly/fraudulently converted to the police station, but after several hours of questioning they found there was no truth to the accusations and released them. The 60-year-old Pastor Sathyaraj, however, was detained late into the night; when he became ill, he was allowed to go a hospital on the condition that he report back the next morning. The following day police charged him with “promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion and deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings or any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs.” With the intervention of the area Christian leaders, the pastor was released on bail the next day.
Andhra Pradesh – Hindu extremists at Mahabubnagar railway station attacked a pastor as he was distributing Christian literature on Dec 17. The All India Christian Council (AICC) reported that Pastor R. Prasad had gone to the railway station and was distributing tracts to commuters when a group of young men approached him at about 8:30 a.m. and started beating him. The young men then forcibly led the pastor to a car that took them to a Hindu temple, where they burned the Christian literature and again beat him, according to the AICC. The pastor has filed a complaint at the Mahabubnagar police station.
Karnataka – Police arrested a pastor and other Christians after Hindu extremists on Dec. 16 trespassed into the house of one of them, identified only as Venketesh of Badhravathy Baptist Church, and beat assistant pastor Sagar Guntur and church elders in Kagekodana-Jayanagar Shimoga. The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) reported that the perpetrators attacked six women, four elders and the assistant pastor. The extremists falsely accused the Christians of forcible conversions, dragging them out and summoning police from Badravathy rural police station, according to the GCIC. Police have filed a First Information Report against the Christians under Sections 34 and 295-A of the Indian Penal Code 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 after two days.
Maharashtra – Hindu extremists demolished a church building and beat a pastor in Ghatkoper, Mumbai on Dec. 14 after he complained that the church’s worship site was omitted on an area development plan map. Visiting the office of Kunal Vardhan of Neelam Finance Bombay, Ltd., pastor Prabhakaran Kaviraj of the Apostolic Christian Assembly learned of the omission and inquired about it. A few men beat him as he was leaving Kaviraj’s office, and on Dec. 14 a bulldozer demolished the church building. Kunal identified one of the key perpetrators of the demolition along with 12 others who were later arrested. An FIR has been filed against Vardhan and others involved in the demolition at Cheda Nagar police station.
Andhra Pradesh – Masked men on Dec. 11 seriously injured a pastor in Nalgonda, according to the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC). The suspected Hindu extremists stormed into the Sunday service of New Fellowship Gospel Church and started throwing stones at a pastor identified only as Bangariah, who was leading worship. The pastor bled heavily, according to the GCIC, and as church members cried out, neighbors gathered at the site and the masked men ran away. The pastor was taken to Government Hospital in Nalgonda and received 14 stitches on his head and face. Police registered a case, but no arrests have been made.
Madhya Pradesh – Hindu extremists from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and World Hindu Council (VHP) attacked Christians on Dec. 9 in Jhabua, Indore, beating a pastor unconscious, destroying Bibles and taking gold and silver jewelry. The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) reported that about 100 RSS and VHP activists surrounded pastor Ramesh V. Asnia’s house from all sides and began pelting the Christians with large stones before forcibly entering the pastor’s house as his wife, Indira Vasunia, was leading prayer. After breaking a wooden cross and a television set and taking silver and gold chains worth about 30,000 rupees (US$550), they beat the pastor’s 50-year-old mother and broke one of her legs. Vasunia and other women escaped and told the pastor what was happening. When Pastor Ramesh reached his village by motorcycle along with another Christian, Babu Vasunia, about 20 RSS and VHP members severely beat them, alleging that they were forcibly and fraudulently converting Hindus. Even as the two Christians were bleeding heavily and the pastor was unconscious, the extremists continued to strike them with stones and with their fists, also kicking them in the stomach, according to the GCIC. They dragged the pastor, tearing his clothes. Witnesses later told Pastor Ramesh that the extremists threatened to further harm them if he continued preaching and teaching, and that they were carrying pistols, bows and arrows, and a sword-like weapon. Pastor Ramesh and Babu Vasunia went to the Antarwailya police station and told a head constable identified only as Kushwaha about the incident, asking him to file a First Information Report against the attackers, but Kushwaha said no police officers were on duty that day, according to GCIC.
Tamil Nadu – Police in Nagarcoil on Dec. 9 arrested the Rev. Arul Saiju and the Rev. Stanley Baburaj, along with 10 Christians from the Makankara Catholic Church, after local officials supervised the demolition of their church building, which was under renovation. Saiju and Baburaj produced the original title deeds to the officials to establish ownership, but Hindu extremists attacked them and took them to the local police station alleging that they had obstructed civil servants from discharging their responsibility. Saij, Baburaj and the 10 other Christians were put in a sub-jail and were later released on bail, reported a GCIC representative.
Orissa – A group of tribal Hindu extremists on Dec. 8 attacked three tribal Christian families in Chandikhole, Jajpur district. The All India Christian Council (AICC) reported that the extremists beat the Christians, accused them of forceful conversion and filed a police complaint against them. When the tribal Christians approached the police to complain, they were reprimanded and detained due to the First Information Report filed against them. The AICC leaders in Orissa contacted the deputy inspector and superintendent of police in efforts to free the innocent victims of the hate crime, reported AICC.
Tamil Nadu – Hindu extremists on Dec. 3 razed a church after issuing several threats to a pastor in Hosur. The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) reported that the extremists destroyed the Christu Sabha church building in the dead of night. The Hindu extremists had mounted two previous attacks against pastor Paul Chinnaswamy, according to the GCIC, robbing his small savings and destroying a small shed in which he regularly held worship services in April 2007 and beating and stabbing him in the leg with a screw drive in May of that year. They have also threatened to abduct his four daughters and harm his son if he continues spreading Christianity in the village. Police refused to register a case.
Madhya Pradesh – Police arrested a pastor after Hindu extremists filed a complaint of forceful conversion against a pastor in Sendwa, Badhwani district on Dec. 2. The Evangelical Fellowship of India reported that the pastor of the Indian Pentecostal Church, identified only as Titus, and other Christians were arrested after being charged under Sections 3 and 4 of the Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act after a complaint was registered against them. While in the police station, about 20 men from a radical Hindu organization stormed in demanding the arrest of the pastor. Pastor Titus and the other Christians were released after bail was posted by local Christians. Police seized the vehicle they were using along with some CDs and Bibles.