India Briefs: Recent Incidents of Persecution


Kerala, India, October 31 (CDN) — The government on Oct. 20 deported U.S. evangelist William Lee, blacklisted him and prohibited him from visiting India again after police arrested him on Oct. 14 for participation in a musical concert in Kaloor Stadium, Cochin and jailed him for allegedly violating terms of his visa by preaching, according to the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC). Lee participated in an in-door musical program organized by Faith Leaders Church of Lord, Tiruvalla. After three days in jail, the evangelist complained of chest pain and was admitted to a hospital. The Ernakulam magistrate’s court fined him 10,000 rupees (US$202). The GCIC condemned Lee’s arrest as selective, releasing a statement that, “The moral policing, sectarian violence and the selective arrest of Christian evangelists demonstrate very clearly a failure of secular institutions in India.”

Karnataka – On Oct. 17 in Sullia, South Kanara, Hindu extremists along with the village head exhumed the body of a Christian woman, alleging that Christians were guilty of an illegal burial. The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) reported that a pastor identified only as Moses V. conducted the funeral service of Asha Latha of Bethsaida Assembly of God Church on land he had bought as a burial ground. Just as the Christians had completed the ceremony and interned the body, the village head and about 100 extremists forced them to exhume the body and bury it elsewhere and complained to Sullia police. Officers arrived and took the pastor to the police station. As Christians buried Latha’s body on her land at Ivara Nadu, police questioned the pastor till about midnight, GCIC reported. He was released only after area leaders’ intervention, but on Oct. 18 police took him back to the station for further questioning.

Andhra Pradesh – Police on Oct. 16 detained Christians after Hindu extremists beat them and damaged a pastor’s car in Ramagudam. The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) reported that about 100 Hindu extremists from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) barged into the evening youth meeting, beat the young Christians and took them to the police station. A pastor identified only as Suresh rushed to the station, but the RSS stopped him and damaged his car. After beating the pastor, the RSS members filed a false charge of forcible conversion, according to the GCIC. Pastor Suresh also filed a police complaint against the attackers, after which the youth leaders were released without charges.

Karnataka – Police on Oct. 15 seized the passport of a pastor who runs an orphanage after he reported a missing orphan in Kadugodi, near Bangalore. The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) reported that Joseph Victor notified authorities that a 15-year-old girl at his Navajeevan Orphanage left the facility to attend a tailoring class. Police told him he could file a written complaint the next morning, and Pastor Victor sent his associate pastor and a clerk to the police station the next day to do so. While police made the Christians wait, the station inspector and sub-inspector went to the orphanage and demanded to know whether Pastor Victor had permission to operate the facility. After questioning, they took him to the police station. Detaining the Christians till evening, police forced them to sign a statement that they themselves should search for the missing girl, demanded that they produce all documents for operating the orphanage and a house church and confiscated the pastor’s passport, reported the GCIC.

Andhra Pradesh – Hindu extremists from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh on Oct. 15 accused Christians of forceful conversion and attacked them in Ramagundam. The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) reported the extremists accused the Glorious Ministries youth group as they were preparing for three days of meetings at Calvary Temple on Oct 18-20. The extremists took the youth group to the police station. When a pastor identified only as Suresh along with three other Christians went to the station, about 100 extremists led by Thota Kumara Swamy attacked them, seriously injuring their heads and eyes and badly damaging their car with boulders, according to the GCIC. The Christian youths were charged and taken to the Karim Nagar Magistrate Court. At press time area Christian leaders were taking steps to resolve the matter.

Karnataka – Police in Arasikere arrested Pastor Sunder Raj on Oct. 13 after Hindu extremists filed a complaint alleging that he tried to demolish a temple and had attacked and abused them with foul language. The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) reported that police, bowing to the extremists’ pressure, filed an anti-religion atrocity case against the pastor, whom a judge sent to Hassan Jail; he was released on bail the next day. In 2004 the Arasikere Municipality, pressured by Sangh Parivar extremists, had demolished a church building alleging that it was constructed without permission and then built a temple on the same spot. Police had refused to accept the pastor’s complaints. Pastor Raj fought the case for more than two years but lost it in 2006. He then appealed to the District Sessions Court at Hassan, which ordered a fresh survey of the land. Knowing this, some Sangh Parivar extremists damaged a small part of the temple wall to make it appear the pastor was guilty of an anti-religious atrocity, according to the GCIC.

Karnataka – Police arrested six tribal Christians on Oct. 12 in Kulshalnagar, Coorg after Hindu extremists barged into their prayer meeting, verbally abused them and filed a complaint against them of forceful conversion. The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) reported that the incident took place on the previous day at about 7 p.m., when the extremists forcefully entered into the prayer meeting at a Christian’s house. Accusing them of forceful conversion, the angry extremists destroyed vehicles parked outside the house, according to the GCIC. The police who arrived soon after arrested the Christians and took them to the Siddapura police station. They were sent to Virajpet jail and were released on bail the next day.

Maharashtra – Hindu extremists led by Gupsingh Raya Paurana threatened to murder a convert Christian from Hinduism, Ram Balli, and other Christians after launching repeated attacks on them in Virla Town, Sirja, Dhule. “Gupsingh Raya Purana claimed that he was imprisoned several times on charges of murder and other criminal acts and he threatened to murder me because I am a Christian,” Balli told Compass. “He told me that he would murder me and go back to jail and that it does not matter to him.” On Sept. 7, the village head summoned all the Christians and detained them for about eight hours after a Sept. 2 attack by Hindu extremists on a home prayer meeting that severely wounded the head of Raju Narayan. The village head along with Hindu extremists mocked them, and, in coarse language, told them they must not follow Christ. “They forced us to kneel down and worship the idols and also forced us to drink alcohol, and threatened to kill us if we didn’t oblige,” Balli said. On Oct. 8, while the Christians were getting ready to sleep, the extremists started throwing stones at their houses, sending Meena Raju to the hospital with a severe head injury. The Christians filed a police complaint against the attackers. The next day, the enraged extremists went to Balli’s house and other Christian homes and verbally abused them, threatening to kill them. Balli ran for his life to the police station, and other Christian family members hid in a field. The extremists destroyed the houses of the Christians. Police summoned the two parties. “The police told the Christians to worship the idols like all the other villagers and live in harmony with each other,” reported a pastor identified only as Sarichar, coordinator of the Indian Evangelical Team of Chodada division. After the intervention of the National Commission for Minorities, Shirpur Police in-charge P.R. Gulate and his team on Oct. 19 went to the site and investigated, and then registered a case against Dev Das, Gup Singh Paurane and Sai Singh. The attackers were charged with voluntarily causing hurt and intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace. Tensions still prevailed in the area, and at press time police were trying to arrange another meeting between the two parties.

Andhra Pradesh – On Oct. 2, Hindu extremist Goli Suman and a drunken mob broke into Jesus Prayer Hall at Govindupally Jagitiyal town and threatened pastor Badugu Lazarus and other members of the church during a praying meeting. The Catholic Christian Forum reported that the extremists drank on the church premises. That night at 2 a.m., pastor A. Paul Chand rushed to the church and called police. An assistant sub-inspector of the town police station immediately visited the church, and after daybreak the Deva Reddy inspector of police also arrived and gave moral support, suggesting the pastor file a complaint. The Christians filed a complaint, and police arrested three extremists. Six months before, Hindu extremist Malla Reddy and the same group had objected to church construction and threatened to harm Pastor Lazarus if he built a church.

Kerala – On Sept.27 in Ambalavaval, Wayanad, Hindu extremists beat a pastor for his faith in Christ, seriously injuring him. The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) reported that a pastor identified only as Jaison E.T. and his wife were distributing gospel tracts and praying for the sick in various homes until one resident ordered them to get out of his family’s house. The Christians left, but later the same man and two Hindu extremists caught up with him in a house where the Christians had been welcomed and severely beat him. The owner of the house tried to stop them and called her husband to help, according to GCIC, and within five minutes he reached their house and gave protection to the pastor. Meantime, more than 20 people turned up to keep the intolerant Hindus from attacking the pastor’s wife.

Karnataka – In Nagnure, Belgaum district, a pastor and another Christian en route to evangelistic work on Sept. 27 were stopped by Hindu extremists who then tied them to a tree and beat them for their faith in Christ. The All India Christian Council reported that upon learning of the assault on the pastor, identified only as Kashinath, and the worker from the Indian Missionary Society, Christian youths from the area gathered and retaliated, requiring police intervention. Both parties filed cases against each other the following day. No arrests had been made at press time.

Karnataka – In Sakleshpur, about 50 Hindu extremists from the Bajrang Dal, youth wing of the World Hindu Council, on Sept. 25 forced their way into the End Times Full Harvest Church, manhandled pastor Balzy D’Souza and some Christian women. The Global Council of Indian Christians reported that the extremists took Bibles and called police, who quickly arrived and joined the extremists in bullying the Christians. The area sub-inspector ordered them to stop their worship service and close down the church. Three weeks prior, an area inspector of police identified only as Ganesh visited the church and asked the pastor whether he had a license and the necessary permission from authorities to run a church in his house. The officer told him that there had been complaint against him that he had been involved in forcible and fraudulent conversions and that he must stop such illegal activities immediately. Area Christian leaders intervened, meeting with Hassan district official Ajit Singh and arranging a meeting between the Christians and the assailants. The extremists, however, gathered and fabricated a story with a couple of false witnesses that pastor John D’Souza and his colleagues had tried to bribe two people, supposedly paying them10,000 rupees (US$202) each to become Christians. Hindu leaders then issued an ordered that the pastor must stop his activities immediately, as they accused him of causing communal disharmony.

Karnataka – Police in Hulimavy, Bangalore Rural District on Sept. 25 threatened to jail pastor Arunachala Paramashivam of the Church of God Full Gospel India and shuttered his church. The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) reported that the Hulimavu police station’s sub-inspector, identified only as Chandru, visited the pastor and asked him whether he had permission for a church, and that he had received complaints against him of forcible and fraudulent conversions. The pastor was arrested and subjected to lengthy questioning by Inspector Balram Gowda, who warned him that if he persisted in continuing with his prayer services, he would be arrested and sent to jail, reported the GCIC. He then ordered him to stop worship services and closed down the church. With area Christian leaders’ intervention, the pastor was able to continue Sunday worship meetings, reported GCIC.

Source:  Compass Direct News

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