India

‘Release them to us. We will see their end.’ – Hindu villagers wanted organizers of Christian film to be killed in Bihar, India [#PleasePray #ChristianPersecution #IndiaPersecution]

Immanuel Tirkey and about 100 villagers were watching the end of a Christian film in Bihar state, India, when a man stood up in front of the screen and began shouting, “Who is the operator here? Who is the operator here?”

Tirkey was one of 5 Christians who had organized the screening of “He Will Come Again” at the home of a Christian woman, Anandi on Aug. 23, 2019 in the Kodaila area of Jamalpur village, Siwan District.

Tirkey rose and asked what was the matter. The man told him to reduce the volume, and Tirkey did so.

“He was again and again asking me to reduce the volume. I told him that if I reduced it more, it will not be audible to anybody seated here, and that there are only 10 minutes left for the movie to end.”
– Immanuel Tirkey

The man left, but as the villagers were gathering their belongings to leave after the screening, at least 15 Hindu villagers arrived with swords, bamboo poles and wooden sticks,. Anandi’s family immediately rushed Tirkey and the other 4 Christian organizers of the screening into their house and locked the doors.

Pelting the house with stones and vandalizing a motorbike and a van, they banged on the doors and badgered Anandi’s family to hand the Christians over to them.

Turkey and the other 4 Christian organizers repeatedly requested that the family let them go outside, but they refused, saying they would face whatever came rather than turn them over to the mob.

“They were shouting at the family that they are supporting in converting Hindus to a foreign faith, and that we must be killed – ‘Release them to us. We will see their end,’ they kept shouting. “We did not know what to do.”
– Immanuel Tirkey

Tirkey called his native missions office and gave their Google Maps location via WhatsApp. Missions officials contacted Persecution Relief founder Shibu Thomas, who informed the police, and officers from Aandar police station arrived.

Hindu Extremists Demand Death of One of Organizers of Christian Film in India
Mob says one should be killed to ‘teach them a lesson.’:
Morningstar News

Bijaya Kumar Sanaseth, second Christian released on bail out of the 7 wrongly convicted of killing a Hindu extremist leader, Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati in India [#BijayaKumarSanaseth #SwamiLaxmananandaSaraswati #ChristianNews]

When Bijaya Kumar Sanaseth went to jail for a murder in India that he did not commit more than 10 and a half years ago, his mother was still alive and his oldest child was 9 years old.

“I have not seen my children grow.”
– Bijaya Kumar Sanaseth, the second Christian to be released on bail of the 7 wrongly convicted of killing a Hindu extremist leader said between sobs.

“My six children were very young with my youngest child, a girl, being 1-year-old, and my oldest, a boy, was 9 years old. Today the youngest is 12 and my oldest is 20. Nobody can give me back the years that I have lost.”
– Bijaya Kumar Sanaseth

Bijaya Kumar Sanaseth and the 6 other Christians were convicted in September 2013 of the murder of Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati, whose death on Aug. 23, 2008 touched off anti-Christian attacks that killed 120 people, destroyed nearly 6,000 homes and displaced 55,000 Christians.

Now 47, Bijaya Kumar Sanaseth was released on bail on July 27, 2019, 2 months and 6 days after fellow convict Gornath Chalanseth was bailed out on May 21, 2019.

“I faced a lot of hardships in jail – I thank God for this freedom. I trusted God would bring me out one day.”
– Bijaya Kumar Sanaseth

Because the Supreme Court issued the release on bail, he does not have to return unless the high court itself so orders.

Second Wrongly Convicted Christian Released in Kandhamal, India Case Counts Cost:
Fight continues for five others falsely accused
Morning Star News

7 Christian families were forced to flee their village in Jharkhand state in India after facing intimidation, harassment and threats from a local fundamentalist group, Hindu Jagran Manch (HJM). 3 other families were forcefully converted to Hinduism.

Hindu Jagran Manch is affiliated to the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), the religious arm of the Rashtryia Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS), which is the ideological arm of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) party led by President Modi, which retained power in the recent elections of India. The displaced families, including one pregnant woman, from Masiya Mahuwatoli village, Gumla district, Jharkhand state, have sought refuge in neighboring villages.

On June 12, representatives of HJM made a list of Christian families in Masiya Mahuwatoli village, who were then instructed to renounce their faith and convert to Hinduism. At the instigation of the HJM, a crowd of approximately 200 villagers became violent when the families refused to change their religion. Threats included excommunication, land confiscation, prohibition from using the village road, prevention from accessing communal water and exclusion from government rations.

Anima Munda, who is 9 months pregnant, managed to escape the intimidating and violent crowd. She walked 4 miles to get shelter in a neighboring village. On June 14, 2019 approximately 22 members of the HJM entered a Christian home and dragged a man and his widowed mother, Jugiya Munda, to the street. They were taken to the local temple to renounce their faith. When they refused, their Bibles were burnt and the perpetrators carried out a conversion ceremony. On the same evening, members of HJM attacked the home of a man named Mangra Munda. His home was damaged as a result of attempts by the perpetrators to get in. Mangra said they were going to kill him, but he was able to escape as it was dark.

There are approximately 47 Christians in the village and 37 have managed to escape. They have sought refuge in other villages and continue to live in fear and for the future of their livelihood. This incident affected 12 children who are not able to go to school. The families are concerned for their cattle and their agricultural crops.

Concerns also remain for some of their aging parents who remain alone in the village and who require assistance and care.

An attempt by the families to lodge a complaint June 17, 2019 was rejected at the Bharno town police station. Following this, an online First Information Report (FIR) was registered and a copy of the application has since been forwarded to the attention of the Deputy Superintendent of Police and the Superintendent of Police of Gumla district.

“CSW is deeply concerned for the wellbeing of the Christian families who have been forced to either convert or run for their lives. The freedom to choose a religion is a fundamental right afforded to every Indian citizen. We urge the local authorities to prosecute the perpetrators of these crimes, to give full protection to these families, and to take the necessary steps to ensure that Christian families in Masiya Mahuwatoli village are able to live without fear and intimidation.”
– Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas of Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW)

INDIA | Christian Families Forcibly Displaced:
Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) – Voice for the Voiceless

Narendra Modi was sworn in for a second term as the Prime Minister of India. His party, the BJP, won a resounding victory in parliamentary elections.

As Indian pundits — a word that is, by the way, of Indian origin — will tell you, if Modi and the BJP were the obvious winners, their political rivals, the Congress Party, were the big losers. But there is another potential loser in these elections, one that should especially concern American Christians, and that is Indian Christians.

To understand why, you need to understand Hindutva, which is the governing ideology of BJP. It literally means “Hinduness,” and defines what it means to be an Indian in religious — to be specific, Hindu — terms. Hindutva regards Christianity and Islam as foreign religions, and therefore any Indian who claims to be a Christian or a Muslim is less than truly Indian. According to this ideology, Hinduism is central to what it means to be an Indian.

While most of the world mistakenly sees India as a land of Gandhi, gurus, and nonviolence, there is nothing peaceful or tolerant about Hindutva. For instance, the man who assassinated Gandhi was an adherent of Hindutva who felt Gandhi had betrayed the Hindu community.

In the run-up to the election, one BJP candidate called Gandhi’s assassin “a patriot.” Though Modi denounced the comments, they are consistent with the principles of Hindutva. More concerning are the many examples of Hindutva-inspired persecution of Christians in India, especially in the 5 years since the BJP first came to power.

In the weeks before the election, there were reports of “food deprivation, beatings, and jail” directed at Christian converts in the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand.

“Because radical Hindu nationalists view followers of Jesus as alien to the nation, all Christians in India are suffering persecution. Driven by a desire to cleanse their country from Islam and Christianity, nationalists do not shy away from using extensive violence to achieve their goals.”
– Open Doors

Part of their campaign to cleanse India of Christians involves anti-conversion laws. At least 6 Indian states effectively prohibit conversions to Christianity. “Effectively,” because Hindu nationalists there have found a way around the freedom of religion guaranteed in the Indian constitution. Any conversion that results from “force, allurement or fraudulent means” is illegal. Given the vagueness of these terms, Indian law empowers ideologically-driven local officials to view all conversions as guilty until proven innocent.

For all these reasons and more, India currently ranks 10th on Open Doors World Watch List—which is 11 spots higher than when the BJP first assumed power.

All of this may come as a surprise given what we often hear or read about India in mainstream media outlets. For example, a recent discussion of the Indian election on a New York Times podcast explained the threat to Indian Muslims, but made no mention of the persecution of Indian Christians.

To be fair, India does have the second-largest Muslim population in the world, and the most visible religious conflict there falls along Hindu-Muslim lines. Still, there are more than 30 million Christians in India, and there is some reason to believe that this number may be significantly understated. Muslims are not the only targets of Hindu extremism. Indian Christians are rightly concerned about what the triumph of Modi means for them.

We should be concerned as well. After all, contrary to Hindutva ideology, Christianity is no European import. It existed in India before Paul reached Rome. Some churches in southern India even worship in an offshoot of Aramaic, the language Jesus spoke.

We must pray for our Indian brethren, asking God to preserve the faith in a subcontinent where it is every bit as native as that which seeks to drive it out.

BreakPoint: Indian Christians on Edge:
Big Win for Hindu Nationalists
BreakPoint