India Christians Injured As Hindu Violence Rocks State

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

By BosNewsLife News Center

NEW DELHI, INDIA (BosNewsLife)-- At least 18 Christians, including children, were injured when Hindu militants armed with sticks, rods and other sharp weapons broke up a Christian seminar in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, the fourth such incident in as many days, a Christian news agency reported Monday, January 30.

Compass Direct said the incident Saturday, January 28, happened when Christian believers gathered in a private home in the town of Bhopal. It quoted local church sources as saying that around 60 members of the nationalist Hindu group Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) "pelted the house with stones and accused the Christians of forced conversion before rushing into the house where the day-long seminar was being held."

Six Christians were rushed to a hospital with serious injuries following the assault, while at least 12 others, some of them children, suffered relatively minor injuries, the news agency said.

The assault also left "Pastor Sam Francis, who had organized the seminar, with fractures in his hands and legs, while guest speaker Kishore Sadhwani suffered a broken hand and a head injury requiring eight stitches," Compass Direct quoted witnesses as saying.

Christian evangelists Majit Masih, Lal Chand and Ivan Pereira were among others who sustained "serious" injuries, the news agency said. Local media quoted police as saying that only minor injuries were received.


The attack came after other Hindu extremists reportedly attacked three pastors and about 20 lay Christians attending a prayer meeting at the home of Freddie Prakash in Govindpur district of the state. Someone threw a stone at a window at about 9:30 a.m., and then a mob of around 30 extremists barged into the house and started beating those present with sticks, Compass Direct reported.

The Rev. S. V. Francis, who was leading the meeting, received serious injuries to a hand and leg, while a visiting pastor from Nagpur district was beaten around the head and another church leader sustained injuries to his head and hand, news reports said.

Earlier on Thursday, January 26, three leaders from the Church of the Nazarene were reportedly arrested on charges of attempting to forcibly converting 23 tribal villagers from Dindori, a district close to Jabalpur.


The villagers apparently stopped overnight at the Gurudev hostel in the Madam Mahal area of Jabalpur on their way to a Church of the Nazarene Christian convention in neighboring Maharashtra state.

Sudhir Agarwal, leader of the radical group Dharam Raksha Samiti, or Religion Defense Platform, allegedly tipped off police, who raided the hostel to scare the Christians away. Joining the police was "a large mob" of Hindu militants shouting anti Christian slogans and beating Christian believers, Compass Direct said.

Three Christians, identified as Nazarene church leaders Pravin Pawar, Sanat Pawar and Maclin Masih, were reportedly arrested under the state's controversial state anti-conversion law. Police apparently also confiscated Christian literature, church documents and the villagers’ bus tickets.

Police denied reports that Christians were beaten during the raid and Indian media claimed the villagers were being taken by force or fraudulent means to the convention, for money or promises of a sightseeing tour.


Police also raided a Christian home in Chapri village in Jhabua region on Wednesday morning, January 25, and witnesses said "they beat up two tribal pastors who were present," Compass Direct reported.

The victims were identified as Pastor Rai Singh Amblia, of the Philadelphia Church of Chapri, in whose home the meetings was held, and co-Pastor Hatehsingh Rawat.

The men were reportedly told to stop their Christian activities and held in custody for four hours during which policemen repeatedly punched them in the stomach and neck, causing injuries requiring medical treatment. When the pastors arrived at the hospital, staff allegedly demanded a police letter before they would give medical assistance.

"The manner in which Christians in Jhabua are being targeted almost systematically is shocking," said the state minority commission, in published remarks. "It is becoming a regular affair, and almost no protection is being offered by the government." (With reports from India)

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