About 100 Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) workers led by A. Raja and another identified only as Chidambaram on April 21 beat 15 Christians for proclaiming Christ in Paganeri, Shivagangai. The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) reported that the Hindu extremists beat them, burned their Bibles and tracts, seized their vehicle key and destroyed their megaphone. The Christian group, led by an evangelist identified only as Jessudoss from Kandanur, had gone to the area in a van fitted with a megaphone; they filed a complaint at the Paganeri police station against the attackers, but officers took no action, according to the GCIC. The Christians then went to the Deputy Superintendent of Police, who immediately sent officers to the site; they helped arrange an agreement between the assailants and the victims with the help of the village head, and the Hindu extremists returned the vehicle key to the pastor. Later that same evening, however, the BJP members returned and beat Jessudoss, the GCIC reported. They told Christians they would not hesitate to attack them again.
Andhra Pradesh – Hindu extremists staged a protest in front of Hebron Church in Mahadevapura on April 19, demanding action against a pastor for alleged attempts to forcibly convert schoolchildren, sources said. Intervening to defuse tensions, Mahadevapura police detained pastor Victor Babu for questioning. Rajashekara Reddy filed a complaint against the pastor for “deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings” under Section 295-A of the Indian Penal Code. The complaint accused the pastor of preaching to 32 schoolchildren under the guise of organizing a summer camp for them. Police inspected the church premises and illegally confiscated Vacation Bible School materials, including hymnbooks.
Jammu and Kashmir – A Muslim mob on April 17 beat a Christian couple from New Delhi and a young local woman in North Kashmir’s Bandipora town for distributing Christian pamphlets in the area. The Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI) reported that the Rev. Mafford Maharaj Singh and his wife, Kusum Singh, of Grace Upon Grace Church, along with Sammena Bano, were distributing gospel tracts in Urdu and sharing their faith in a local market when a mob gathered, beat them and dragged them to the head of the local mosque, who handed them over to police. The police filed a complaint against the Christians for allegedly “promoting enmity between groups on grounds of religion, race, birth, residence,” which is punishable by imprisonment of up to five years, according to the EFI. The Christians reportedly told police they were not doing anything unconstitutional or illegal. The mob had alleged that the couple offered 100,000 Indian rupees (US$1,870) to persons willing to convert to Christianity and that the New Testaments they were distributing contained money as inducement to convert. Bano was released after questioning, according to the EFI. The agency reported that the couple was released on bail, despite the local bar association and other groups protesting and preventing attorneys from appearing. An attorney from the Srinagar High Court, however, filed the bail application on behalf of the couple on April 23, and the couple was released late that night, the EFI reported.
Andhra Pradesh – Hindu extremists in Dharmapuri on April 16 accused a pastor of forceful conversion and filed a complaint against him of violating Government Order 746 and 747, which bans propagation of other religions near the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams temple and 19 other Hindu temples across the country. The Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI) reported that a pastor identified only as Ahron and another church member were distributing pocket calendars when the Hindu extremists began verbally abusing him, took items from the pastor and took him to the local police station. On April 17 the extremists staged a strike and demanded the arrest of the pastor. Police investigation was underway at press time, the EFI reported.
Andhra Pradesh – Police on April 16 arrested a pastor identified only as Samuel for trespassing on a cemetery in Yellamma Banda, Hyderabad after Hindu extremists filed a complaint against him. The All India Christian Council (AICC) reported that the pastor had decided to upgrade the public graveyard and on April 5 had submitted a memorandum to a local official, as well as approached the municipal commissioner through a Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA), requesting permission. He sought to construct a fence, install lights and construct a small cabin in the Yellamma Banda graveyard. After receiving verbal approval from MLA Bhiksa Yadav, the pastor and his co-workers began leveling the surface of the cemetery. On observing this activity, Hindu extremists filed a complaint against the pastor for illegally encroaching on public land, according to the AICC. At around 1:30 a.m., officers arrested Pastor Samuel for illegal trespassing. At around 7 a.m., about 50 pastors met with MLA Yadav, who promised to intervene with the sub-inspector of police and other authorities. AICC representative Moses Vattippali told World Watch Monitor that the pastor was released on bail on April 18 after the intervention of the area AICC leaders.
Tamil Nadu – On April 12 in Dalmiya Puram, Trichy, an intruder disrupted a prayer meeting and stabbed a Christian, severely injuring him. The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) reported that an intruder entered a prayer service led by Pastor Y.S. John of the Indian Pentecostal Church and told him to stop the meeting immediately. The pastor’s nephew, John Britto, tried to calm the intruder, but the enraged extremist drew a sword and struck Britto, nearly cutting off his left hand, GCIC reported. Britto received hospital treatment, and a complaint was filed against the assailant at the Dalmiya Puram police station. No arrests had been made at press time.
Andhra Pradesh – Hindu extremists from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in Kakinada, East Godavari on April 12 tied and stabbed a pastor’s son, as well as beat the pastor and his wife. The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) reported that the extremists went to the home of the pastor, identified only as Ratnababu, and urgently asked for him. When his son, Madhu, opened the door, the RSS members pounced on him, stuffed his mouth with cloth and tied his hands and legs. One of the Hindu extremists sprinkled chili powder in Madhu’s eyes, and they lacerated his ankle and other parts of his body, according to the GCIC. Then they started beating the pastor and his wife. The Hindu extremists had a gas can for setting fire to the house, but a neighbor who heard the cries of the pastor’s wife arrived, and the extremists fled, the GCIC reported. Madhu and others identified the assailants and named them in their complaint, registered at the hospital where he received treatment, but police filed a case against “unknown persons.” Pastor Ratnababum, who has served the Christu Asinadu Prarthana Mandir church for 15 years, had previously received several death threats and survived three attempts to burn his church building, according to the GCIC. RSS members have manipulated the police into arresting the pastor two times in the last six months, according to the GCIC. An attorney has petitioned the Andhra Pradesh High Court to stop the violation of religious rights and personal safety of the pastor and his family. The GCIC also reported that callous indifference of officials against the violence has traumatized the 500-plus church members.
Tamil Nadu – On April 11 in Emapur, Villupuram district, a mob led by a Hindu extremist identified only as Balaji beat a pastor and pressured his landlord to evict him from his home. The Global Council of Indian Christians reported that the pastor, identified only as Caleb, was on his way to preach in the village when the extremists began verbally abusing him and then severely beat him. The church had been meeting at the pastor’s rented home.
Karnataka – A police inspector in Mangalore beat a pastor on April 8, alleging forceful conversion. The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) reported that on Easter morning the inspector, identified only as Janardhan, accused the pastor, identified only as Rajesh, of forceful conversion, beat him and warned him to vacate his rented house or face harm. After the intervention of area Christian leaders, the inspector apologized to the pastor, who remained in his home, according to the GCIC.
Uttar Pradesh – On April 7 in Maharajganj, Hindu extremists from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh beat Christians after barging into a large gathering of healing prayer. The Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI) reported that at about 8 a.m., the armed extremists entered into the “Festival of Deliverance” meeting of Maharajganj Baptist Church (MBC), where 4,000 people had gathered, and accused them of forceful conversion, verbally abusing and beating them. Besides striking the Christian leaders, the extremists targeted a convert from Hinduism, Ambika Prasad, who had provided the church with land, an MBC member told EFI. About 10 enraged extremists with iron rods took part in the violence, injuring pastor Ram Chander, Vish Prasad and his wife, Ambika Prasad, and others, according to the EFI. Police soon arrived and restored order. The Christians filed a First Information Report against the attackers, and police arrested four extremists, but they were released the same day without any charges, according to the EFI.
Tamil Nadu – After learning that children at a crisis center had attended church services in Akkarapettai village, near Nagapattinam, intolerant Hindus tore up Bibles and gospel literature at their homes. The Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI) reported that after town Hindus learned that there was a noticeable drop in the number of people attending a Hindu festival, they found out that many villagers were attending church services. On April 2 the enraged Hindus went to a government school and announced a reward for children with Christian literature in their homes. With this ruse, they were able to harass the children who admitted to having Christian books, summoned their parents, verbally abused them and threatened to expel them from the village if they continued to go to church, according to the EFI. The next day, the assailants searched the Christians’ houses and searched for Christian literature; they tore Bibles and other literature and threatened the residents, the EFI reported. They also threatened leaders of SUSHASYA, the Scripture Union’s center that ministers to children in crisis. The Hindus asked one family to vacate their house after they openly said they were worshipping Jesus, and they also locked 12 Christian houses for three days before police intervened, the EFI reported. One person identified only as Mahalaxmi and three other families filed a police complaint against the attackers, and police protection was provided. Some fearful Christians, however, are staying away from the village, where the assailants are threatening further harm, according to the EFI.
Orissa – Hindu extremists repeatedly attacked a Catholic priest, threatening to murder him in Gudayagiri, Khnadhamal. The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) reported that on March 29, extremists led by Manoj Nayak and others dug up a road to a grotto shrine but stopped after a priest identified only as the Rev. Sisisrkant asked them to stop, saying it would destroy the grotto. The next day, however, the same party arrived with a bulldozer and began to dig up the road. The Hindu extremists verbally abused the priest, and one, Deepak Nayak, began strangling him, kicked him and threatened to kill him, according to the GCIC. On April 4, when the priest was on his way to Gudayagiri, another Hindu extremist, Manoj Nayak, caught hold of the priest by the throat and pushed him. Two days later, Hindu extremist Rabindra Nayak threatened to kill the priest, reported the GCIC.
Karnataka – Police on March 28 arrested a pastor and three church members after Hindu extremists from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh beat them and filed a complaint against them of forceful conversion in Gadag. The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) reported that a pastor identified only as Mallikarjun and four church members were distributing tracts to some people when the extremists, led by area leader Ravi Bagle, began to beat them. They dragged the five Christians to a police station. After intervention by area Christian leaders, four church members were released at about 11 p.m. without charges. The pastor, however, was charged with abetment and harboring persons hired for an unlawful assembly (sections 107 and 157 of the Indian Penal Code), according to the GCIC. After further area Christian leaders’ intervention, he was released on bail at 1:30 a.m.
Uttar Pradesh – Rampur police and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP or World Hindu Council) on March 24 disrupted the Yeshu Mahatsava Convention (Celebration of Jesus Christ) in Chadidiha after the VHP filed a complaint of forceful conversion against the organizers. The Catholic Christian Forum reported that despite procuring permission from the associate district magistrate to conduct the convention, police shut it down over VHP allegations that forced conversions was taking place. Fearing a possible backlash from the community, Sub-Inspector R.P. Saroj arrived at the venue and withdrew the permission he himself had granted, ordering all stalls to be removed. VHP District Chairman Omprakash Singh accused Christian workers of converting people by enticing them with money.