Evangelical Fellowship of India Reports 11 Instances of Violence or Persecution against Christians in First Half of February

In mid-February, the Religious Liberty Commission of the Evangelical Fellowship of India reported that, similarly to the stream of incidents of violence and persecution against Indian Christians that took place in January, the frequency has remained steady this month. Within just the first fifteen days of February 2021, eleven incidents were reported; also as is par for the course regarding such instances of intolerance, the majority took place in the state of Madhya Pradesh (4 incidents). Similar incidents were reported in Maharashtra (3), Assam (2), Bihar (1), and Andhra Pradesh (1).

Madhya Pradesh

  • 4 February 2021: In Betul district, Christian Abdul Raheem was arrested by local authorities. He was informed that the police received a complaint by a man named Mr. Ansul Kamra regarding Raheem’s work with the local Christian ministry.
  • 6 February 2021: In Lakhnadon, Seoni district, two missionaries of the India Evangelical Mission were accused of engaging in fraudulent religious conversion during a wedding ceremony after they were invited to attend by a Christian family. The missionaries were interrupted by nationalist extremists and the Christian family who invited them were summoned to the police station where they were questioned.
  • 7 February 2021: In Alirajpur district, a Sunday church gathering of some 25 church congregants were ambushed by a group of religious extremists who filed a complaint to the police that the church was ‘luring’ its members to participate. All 25 congregants at the church were arrested and questioned; Pastor Dilip Vasuniya was charged under the Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Ordinance, though he was released on bail three days later.
  • 10 February 2021: In Alirajpur district, former Member of Legislative Assembly Nagar Singh claimed during a public press even that Christian missionaries were ‘luring’ and ‘enticing’ people to convert to Christianity.

Maharashtra

  • 2 February 2021: In Jam village, Wardha district, a Christian prayer session hosted by Christ Church member Ramkumar Suryawanshi, was interrupted by his employer. The boss of Suryawanshi’s textile business accused Suryawanshi of engaging in fraudulent religious conversion and demanded that he resign from his job. The next day, Suryawanshi visited the president of his company and was able to retain his position.
  • 13 February 2021: In Harsul village, Nashik district, the Christian funeral of the 2-year-old son of Pintu Rajaram Garel was interrupted. Community members asserted that Garel must pay dues if he wished to bury his deceased child in a Christian manner.
  • 13 February 2021: In Besa village, Nagpur district, Chitra Banjari and two other Christians were accused by community members of engaging in fraudulent conversion to Christianity. The three individuals were not arrested.

Assam

  • 9 February 2021: In Gharmura, Hailakandi district, a group of unidentified assailants ambushed a Presbyterian mission school and physically assaulted the school director, Mr. H. Vanlaldika, and his family. Mr. Vanlaldika and his family members each sustained various injuries, and two young female relatives were hospitalized as a result.
  • 14 February: In Tezpur city, Christian youth leader Manit Masrakhiya and 30 of his Christian followers were summoned to a meeting by a religious extremist group in which they were admonished for their faith and were threatened that they would be boycotted if they did not cease their religious activities.

Bihar

  • 13 February 2021: In Patna district, a Christian missionary was ambushed by religious extremists and taken to the Daniyawan police station after he was seen disseminating Christian pamphlets. The group that had detained the missionary alleged that he was attempting to forcefully convert poor groups of citizens. At the police station, the Christian missionary was coerced into signing a pledge that he will not take part in religious activities.

Andhra Pradesh

  • 4 February 2021: In Chittoor district, BJP secretary Sunil Deodhar accused Chief Minister Jaganmohan of wanting Indian citizens to convert to Christianity. Subsequently, he claimed that Hindu converts to Christianity would no longer receive benefits and called on people to film any and all attendees of church gatherings in the region.

Cover image by melgupta on Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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