South Asia

Multiple attacks reported on Christians in India on Palm Sunday

At least five attacks were reported against Christians in India during Palm Sunday, according to the Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI). [http://bit.ly/2p0f5WP]

 The five incidents, that took place on 9 April, were reported from the states of Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu and are summarized below:

 Madhya Pradesh

RSS members, accompanied by police personnel, disrupted an on-going worship service at Sitabedi village, Khandwa, Madhya Pradesh at 12:30 pm. The police arrested pastors Amar Singh Solanki, Kishore Barela, and Prabhakar Solanki along with their wives and took them to the local police station at Piplod. Other Christians, who were present at the worship service were carried to the police station as well. The Christians were accused of conducting conversions by force and allurement. According to EFI, the RSS members surrounded the police station demanding action against the Christians. Later after 6 pm, the police released three women and two men but an FIR was registered against the Pastors under the Madhya Pradesh Freedom of religion act. EFI reported that they remain in lock up and await a bail.

 Haryana

Hindu extremists disrupted a Church meeting in Kaithal, Haryana. Pastor Yashpal was leading the meeting. Christians present in the meeting were threatened and manhandled. The attackers had complained against the Christians at the local police station as well alleging conversions. The police took the pastor and Christians into protective custody and took them to the Civil Lines Police station, from where they were later released after the charges against them were found baseless.

Uttar Pradesh

Pastor Krishna Paul Uttar Pradesh

A pastor Krishna Paul was beaten up by a local mob at village Jahanpur, Post Dullahpur, District Ghazipur, Uttar Pradesh.  Later on the

mob handed him over to the police. The Pastor was released after local Christian leaders intervened in the situation.

Rajasthan

Hindu extremists disrupted the worship service of the Church of God at Sri Ganganagar, Rajasthan. Pastor Saji Mathew was arrested and taken into police custody along with seven Christians. Local villagers with the help of a Hindu Priest had complained to the local Sarpanch (village head) that Christians are involved in conversions. The Sarpanch had signed the petition and delivered it to the police as a complaint, following which the police arrested the Christians. Local Christian leaders approached the police for the release of pastor Mathew and all Christians were released late at night.

 Tamil Nadu

Authorities including the revenue inspector and village administrative officers disrupted private prayers at the house of Pastor Gunasekaran at Keeranur Post, Palani Taluka, district Dindigul, Tamil Nadu. The officers took video clips and pictures of the people praying in the house and told the people to stop the prayers. They also told the Christians to take permission from the District Collector before praying in the house. Pastor Gunasekaran’s extended family, which is about 20 persons, have gathered every Sunday for the last 24 years in his house for private prayers. The prayers are not attended by public and are a family affair. Despite the clarifications, the authorities forced pastor Gunasekaran to sign on a letter that they had prepared and asked him to report at the Tehsildar’s office on the following day.

The Rev Vijayesh Lal, General Secretary of EFI, told Global Christian News: “It is laudable that Prime Minister Narendra Modi condemned the attacks on the Churches in Egypt, he would do well to look at minorities in India and condemn the attacks on them as well.

“Indian Christians are being told that they cannot worship or pray in the privacy of their homes, they are being attacked violently and are being arrested on frivolous charges. This is a clear denial of fundamental freedoms and also goes against the speech of the Prime Minister delivered in February 2015 in which he stated that his government would ensure that there is complete freedom of faith. Cow vigilantes have killed at least one person during the past few weeks and have injured and terrorized many,” he said.

The General Secretary urged the Indian Prime Minister to take steps to protect minorities in India.