Christians try to douse a fire set to one of their homes.
According to reports coming out of India, Hindu militants surrounded them, insulted them and snatched the leaflets. Then, the activists took them to the nearby police station, where the Christians were held in custody. Manjunath has been a preacher in the Indian Church of Christ for years and had no police record. However, he and the two evangelists now have been charged under a state anti-conversion law. Madhya Pradesh is one of six Indian states that prohibit anyone to persuade someone else to switch religions. Legislators in Karnataka have been attempting to pass one there as well.
“The Christian community,” says Sajan George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians, “is even more vulnerable where there are such laws. The ultra-nationalist Hindu groups enjoy the protection of the authorities, and this encourages them to violate every aspect of the life of a Christian, even the most intimate and private.”
The anti-Christian attacks are “shameful” and show “a disturbing pattern: violence and appalling social pressures, to limit religious freedom,” says George, who is a native Indian.
On June 9, forty Hindu radicals broke into the home of Christian converts Manesor and Mala Rabha. The Global Council of Indian Christians reports the extremists threatened to forcefully reconvert the Rabha family back to Hinduism, but they got away and took shelter in another Christian’s house. Two Christian friends Michael and Prashanto Rabha tried to help — volunteering to guard Manesor and Mala Rabha’s house, but at midnight, armed assailants took the Christians to a village establishment and interrogated them. When they refused to recant their faith, International Christian Concern
sources say, the radicals “beat them with their hands, feet and flashlights all the while abusing them with filthy language.”
A Christian man cries out for help
The extremists tried to force them to sign blank papers that would have been filled in with whatever the extremists wished. When the Christians refused, Michael and Prashanto Rabha were repeatedly kicked and beaten. A blow to Michael Rabha’s left eye with a large flashlight seriously wounded him. Prashanto Rabha was hardly breathing after the assault. The extremists also injured Mala Rabha before releasing the Christians and threatening further violence if the assaults were reported to the police.
The next morning, they were admitted to Satribari Christian Hospital in Assam with serious wounds and complications. While at the hospital, their homes were looted and their cattle stolen.
Now two other families have also fled the village.
Manesor lodged a complaint with the police, asking for an investigation. Now he has received death threats from local extremists. As a result, he and Mala are unable to return home. They fear being beaten once again, this time for reporting the crimes committed against them.
Police have made no arrests.
In Karnataka, police have accused another pastor of forceful conversion after receiving complaints. The Global Council of Indian Christians reported that a policeman visited the church of pastor Manjappa Byadayi from the Salvation Gospel Church and began leveling allegations that there had been many complaints of “conversion activities.”
The officer told them to report to the police station with all information about their activities. Pastor Byadayi and his wife reported to the station, where police accused them of forcible conversion of Hindus to Christianity and told them that they must stop the alleged activity immediately. Officers ordered the Christians to close down their church building and leave the area. They were told that if they did not, they would have to report their activities to the police station daily.
What are Christians doing? Cowering in fear? No, reports say. Services are continuing. A recent sermon centered not on how to barricade one’s house or protect one’s property, but instead how David the Psalmist proclaimed “Sing, O heavens, and be joyful, O earth; and break forth into singing, O mountains: for the Lord hath comforted His people, and will have mercy upon His afflicted.”
Meanwhile in Orissa, armed Hindu extremists attacked an evangelist who goes by the single name of Baidhar in Mitrapur village, seriously wounding him. The Global Council of Indian Christians reported that the extremists attacked Baidhar while he was returning home from a prayer meeting at a Christian’s home in the village.