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Indian Christians targeted in 140 violen...

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Indian Christians targeted in 140 violent incidents last year

Country/Region: India, South and East Asia

Indian Christians were targeted in 140 major incidents of violence in 2011, including murders, assaults, arson attacks and the destruction of property.

The Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI) recorded the anti-Christian attacks in its annual persecution report. General Secretary the Rev. Dr Richard Howell said:

The Christian community in India continue to suffer for the sake of their service and witness to Jesus Christ. With 140 major incidents of violence against the community in 2011, the crucial issues of the rights of minorities and freedom of faith are involved. The Church will continue to serve the nation and pray for those who are persecuting.

People-praying-in-India-4x3.jpg
Indian Christians at prayer

Many of the incidents involved violence by Hindu extremists who accused local Christians of forcibly converting Hindus. And often the authorities, rather than pursuing the aggressors, took action against the Christian victims.

The southern state of Karnataka was the worst affected with over a third – 49 – of the attacks taking place there.

In one of the incidents, around 20 Hindu extremists disrupted a Sunday service that was taking place in the home of a Christian in Bagalkot, Mudhol, on 21 August. They attacked the congregation and desecrated the communion bread and wine. They beat up the pastor, who received severe injuries to his face and lost a tooth, dragged him out of the house and tied him to a tree. The police were called to the scene and detained the pastor and some other believers; the pastor was later charged.

Elsewhere, in Orissa state, three Christians were found dead in suspicious circumstances in separate incidents during the year. Saul Pradhan (45), a church pastor in Kandhamal, was discovered on 11 January; his body bore marks of assault, but the police claimed that he had died as a result of the cold. The family of Michael Digal (43), who went missing and was found dead three days later on 27 July, believe that he was killed because he had testified in a court case related to the anti-Christian attacks in the district in 2008. Then on 6 November, Ganga Pallia (22) was found murdered in Cuttack; he is believed to have been killed by Hindu extremists.

In Dhantulsi, Chhattisgarh state, around 60 Hindu extremists sabotaged a Christian couple’s wedding day on 2 July; they barged into the reception and beat several guests including women and children, ruined the food and torched vehicles. The Christians reported the incident to the police, but they refused to take any action and pressured the victims to withdraw their complaint.

On 28 October, a Christian man was sentenced to three years in prison for accidentally pasting a poster advertising an evangelistic mission over another religious poster. This riled local people, who staged a protest and created a road block. The Christian, Burgula Prasad of Khamman district, Andhra Pradesh state, was summoned to the police station, where he apologised for his unintended offence. He was initially released, but a criminal case was later filed against him.

The EFI called on state governments, especially that of Karnataka, to take immediate steps to ensure the protection of Christian minorities. They also asked for false and malicious cases registered against Christians in Karnataka to be dropped.

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  • Give thanks for the Christ-like responses of Christian leaders in CAR to the crisis that threatens them and their churches. They have distanced themselves from the anti-balaka militias, saying that these should not be labelled as Christian and that they hold no mandate from the churches. The leaders have also condemned the violence in the country, whatever its origin, and have called on Christians to pursue forgiveness, reconciliation and healing. Churches are hiding, defending and caring for thousands of Muslims endangered by the anti-balaka, and one of CAR’s most senior church leaders has invited the president of the country’s Islamic community to move into his church compound. Pray that this powerful witness to the grace and love of Christ will help to bring peace to the shattered country. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Sat, Apr 2014 00:00

  • On this Good Friday, give thanks to God for the death of Christ and for His gift of eternal life. Praise Him too for the example of those Christians who have persevered in their faith at the risk of their lives and who have made the ultimate sacrifice for the sake of Christ and the Gospel. Pray that their martyrdom will inspire their suffering brothers and sisters in Christ to endure whatever hardships befall them and will convince their persecutors of the truth and power of the Gospel. Pray too that their bereaved families and churches will not grieve without hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13). Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Fri, Apr 2014 00:00

  • Cry out to the Lord for Christians in the Central African Republic (CAR) who have been driven from their homes by the violence that has engulfed their country. Attacks by Islamist Séléka militants and retaliation from “anti-balaka” militias has generated a huge humanitarian crisis in which around two million people, many of them Christians, are in need of emergency assistance. Give thanks for the work of Barnabas partners who have been providing food rations to hundreds of displaced believers in the capital, Bangui, and distributing food, medicines, clothing and seeds to thousands in various regions. Pray that the aid will reach those who need it most, and that the Lord will comfort the relatives and friends of the thousands who have been killed in the fighting. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Thu, Apr 2014 00:00

  • “Jesus Christ performed tremendous miracles in all our lives through this Shalom Camp.” A pastor spoke of how God had worked through a Barnabas-sponsored weekend Bible camp for persecuted Christians in Sri Lanka. The camp was attended by believers from five different churches that had been the target of threats or attacks by Buddhist or Hindu extremists. The participants heard teaching on the Biblical basis for persecution and took part in group discussions; they came away refreshed and encouraged, and for many the camp was a time of great spiritual renewal. Give thanks to the Lord for the peace He has brought to these persecuted believers, and ask that the weekend will continue to bear much fruit in their lives. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Wed, Apr 2014 00:00

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