Inda: A Dangerous Place for Christians


Date:  July 11, 2018

by Elizabeth Kendal

The Hindu concepts of caste (racism by other means) and karma (a spiritual 
principle which teaches that a person's lot in life is determined by actions 
in their past life and is therefore a form of justice) have long ensured 
India remains one of the world's most cruel and inequitable societies. Whilst 
India's poor and downtrodden see egalitarian Christianity as liberating and 
uplifting, its wealthy high caste Hindus view Christianity as a threat to 
their power and privilege. Today, the rise of Hindu nationalism - which 
exploits religion for political gain and establishes religious apartheid - 
has turned India into one of the most dangerous places in the world for 
Christians, most of whom are poor and downtrodden. Not only are Hindu 
nationalists recruiting more and more Hindus (including police and other 
officials) into Hindu nationalist activism and vigilantism, but they are also 
exploiting tensions over religious conversions to bring tribal animists 
on-side and incite them against tribal Christians. Eight states have enacted 
laws that prohibit the procurement of conversions through force, coercion, 
allurement or fraud. Hostile elements wield these laws as weapons against 
witnessing Christians. As anti-Christian hostility has risen, violent 
persecution with impunity has become the order of the day.  

CHURCH ATTACKS: On Monday 2 July a mob of some 20 armed militants belonging 
to the Yuva Vahini (HYV), a Hindu nationalist youth militia, attacked Yeshu 
Darbar Church in Pratapgarh District, in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, 
where Christians comprise a mere 0.3 percent of the population. A prayer 
meeting - which included women and children - was underway at the time. In 
what must have been a terrifying ordeal, eight believers sustained wounds 
that required medical treatment. Church furniture, sound systems, motorbikes, 
hymn books and Bibles were among the property damaged. A First Issue Report 
was registered against the attackers.  

EXPULSIONS: On Tuesday 5 June ten Christian families were expelled from their 
homes in Pahli Village, Latehar District, in the north-east state of 
Jharkhand, where Christians are 6 percent of the population. They had been 
summoned to a village meeting in which Hindu nationalists ordered them to 
renounce their faith or face exile. When they refused to renounce Christ, the 
believers were beaten and driven from the village. They cannot return home as 
the local authorities are unwilling or unable to help them. These families 
are now homeless and living in fear of the Hindu nationalists. According to 
the local pastor, Rajdev Toppo, it has become 'increasingly difficult to 
serve as a pastor in Latehar. 'On a daily basis, I am threatened and 
ridiculed for teaching Christians the word of God.' He also confirmed that 
the 'local government has not been helpful'. Violence against Christians has 
escalated in Jharkhand since anti-conversion legislation was enacted in 
September 2017 [see RLPB 418 (9 Aug 2017)].   

Kasiram Meghwal (46), Evangelist Sahiram Nayak (34) and Pastor Vijender Singh 
(32) quietly distributed Christian literature and New Testaments among 
families of village 16 BD in the Khajuwala area of Bikaner District, in the 
north-western state of Rajasthan, where Christians comprise 0.4 percent of 
the population.  Afterwards, Kaku Singh invited the believers to his home in 
nearby village 14 BD, telling them that his wife was suffering from cancer. 
After sharing the Gospel and praying over Singh's wife, the believers were 
about to leave when they were attacked by an 80-strong Hindu mob. Though 
complicit in the plot, Kaku Singh called the police to prevent the Christians 
from being killed. Kaku Singh and another man then falsely accused the 
believers of trying to forcibly convert them; which resulted in the believers 
being arrested. No sooner had they been released on bail when fresh 
allegations were laid. The Hindus falsely accused the believers of visiting 
them on Sunday 20 May at which time they allegedly offered large sums of 
money in the hope of alluring them to convert. Consequently, the three 
believers were immediately re-arrested.  Pastor Singh told Morning Star News, 
'We wept before the Lord, but we never abandoned our faith.' The men were 
released on bail on 29 May, but not before they had witnessed to inmates, 
including murderers. On Sunday 27 May they even held a worship service inside 
the prison.  The evangelists faced court on 5 and 30 June. Their trial 
continues, even though all three believers can prove they did not visit the 
Khajuwala area that day.  

On Saturday 7 July 16 members of a group of 25 young volunteer evangelists 
from Friends Missionary Prayer Band (FMPB) were arrested in Jharkhand's Dumka 
District. The group, which had entered the district on Thursday 5 July, had 
been detained by angry locals and held overnight before being taken away by 
police on Friday. The seven members released on Saturday were women and 
minors. According to the complainants, the evangelists had invaded with 
loudspeakers and disparaged the religion of local animists - including saying 
Satan resides in their temple - all in an effort to force people to convert 
to Christianity. FMPB denies this, saying all their volunteer evangelists are 
trained in proper procedures. According to FMPB, all the group did was lead 
an open service of prayer and worship in the home of the sole believing 
family in Phulpahari Village, and this was enough to enrage villagers. The 16 
evangelists arrested have been imprisoned in Dumka Central Jail. [For more 
details see World Watch Monitor.]   

For more disturbing and inspiring stories of persecution, courage, endurance 
and suffering in the Indian Church, see Morning Star News, South Asia/India.


* the Holy Spirit will guide India's mission-focused Church in strategies for 
effective witness, enabling them to be blameless - 'wise as serpents and as 
innocent as doves' - as they share the Good News of Jesus Christ in needy 

* the Holy Spirit will give India's courageous evangelists peace of heart, 
presence of mind and words to say as they encounter hostility and as they 
testify before police, judges and local officials.  (Matthew 10:16-33)  

'Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds 
of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your 
reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were 
before you.' Jesus, in Matthew 5:11,12 ESV  

* the Spirit of God would stir up indignation in the 'international 
community' so that the racism inherent in the Hindu caste system and the 
religious apartheid inherent in Hindu nationalism, will no longer be 
tolerated by governments and businesses that wield influence ... for nothing 
will change while impunity reigns.  

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