The number of violent attacks on Christians and churches in India increased over the summer months. Below, World Watch Monitor lists 18 incidents from July, August and the first week of September – 16 took place in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Odisha, where “anti-conversion laws” are in place.
(In chronological order.)
1. School destroyed
When: July 4
Where: Dhupera, Seoni
• School built by Pastor Sumatlal Bihoniya is destroyed.
• Pastor is attacked and flees village, but still receives threats.
• Attempts to lodge complaint with local police, but it is dismissed, so he has to go to district police instead.
2. Pastors beaten and robbed
When: July 16
Where: Leelatola, Rajendargram, Anuppur
• Two pastors (Chetan Meravi and Bacchudas) beaten and robbed at bus stop by Hindu man, who accused them of forcefully converting people to Christianity.
3. Pastor arrested
When: Aug 9
Where: Padlava, Jhabua
• Pastor Ramesh Basuniya arrested during church service. Hindu mob throw stones at pastor and church members.
• Family attempts to post bail, but police refuse to accept it.
• Local newspapers accuse pastor of throwing stones at Hindus while they were departing for a pilgrimage.
4. Christians charged with ‘forced conversions’
When: Sep 5
Where: Amjhera, Dhar
• Pastor Paras Bilwal and two congregants taken to police station by 50-60 Hindu locals and charged with “forced conversion”.
5. Pastors threatened, church attacked
When: Sep 6
• Three pastors (Suresh Mandloi, Dayal and Ramesh Masaniya) told to stop preaching by local Hindus, who file complaint to village chief.
• Pastors go to police, but find case already filed against them. They decide not to hold a service, but church members do so anyway.
• A mob of around 150 people turn up and assault them. Fourteen Christians are arrested by police for “luring people to Christianity”.
6. Pastors beaten and charged with ‘forced conversions’
When: Sep 6
Where: Singpur, Bargat, Seoni
• Two Pastors (Sunny Oman, 50, and John Alexander, 55, were beaten by mob of around 80 Hindu locals while conducting a church service.
• Taken to police station and arrested on charges of “forced conversion”.
• All three put in prison.
7. Pastor attacked and abducted, family flees
When: July 7
Where: Ketulnaar, Bijapur
• Pastor Bhima, 49, attacked and adducted by Naxalites (communist guerrillas) while conducting church service.
• His hands are tied and he is taken into the forest but manages to escape.
• The Naxalites can’t find him, so they threaten his family, telling them they will be killed if they don’t leave the village.
• The next day, all 16 of them flee.
8. Christians thrown out of village
When: July 12
Where: Nawagad, Jaitalkhar, Kondagoan
• Community meeting held to discuss six women who had converted from Hinduism to Christianity.
• Women told to stop going to church.
• Two agree, but four (Savitri and Lalita Korram, and Phulo and Subai Netam) refuse. They are beaten by villagers, including other family members, are told to leave the village.
• They hide in the house of a fellow Christian but are found, so they decide to leave the village
9. Church attacked, Christians beaten
When: July 18
Where: Piprod, Raipur
• Christian conference is interrupted by a group of 40-50 Hindu extremists, who complain that the Christians are “luring people to Christianity”.
• Pastor Sushant Gyanic is surrounded and told to renounce his faith.
• When pastor refuses, he is beaten.
• Other church members are also beaten and their vehicles vandalised.
• Pastor lodges complaint and asks for police protection.
10. Christians beaten, threatened
When: Aug 8
Where: Devgaon, Dhanora
• The village’s 35 Christians are summoned to a community meeting, where they are accused by around 500 villagers of “luring people to Christianity”.
• The villagers say the gods are not happy with the village because the Christians don’t worship them.
• Christians threatened that they will be thrown out of the village and prevented from collecting their crops if they continue to practice Christianity.
• Christians refuse to stop and are beaten.
11. Christian killed
When: Aug 12
Where: Gudsakal, Bhairamgarh, Bijapur
• Sukhdev Negi, a Christian who became village chief, is killed in front of his wife and three children by Naxalites.
• His neighbours try to save him and are beaten too.
• Negi’s brother, Sahdev, had been kidnapped in 2013 and told never to return to the village or speak about Christianity.
• Christians file complaint with police, but they take no action.
12. Family not allowed to bury Christian in village
When: Aug 13
Where: Sulega, Narayanpur
• Elderly Christian woman, Jankon Bai Juri, dies, but villagers refuse to allow her family to bury her body in the village because she was a Christian and did not give money to Hindu festivals.
• But the next day, police and media intervene and her family is allowed to bury her in the village.
13. Christians thrown out of village
When: Aug 25
Where: Nawagad, Jaitlkhar, Kondagaon
• Villagers expel six Christians (including three sisters – Lalita, Tija and Tejai Mandavi) for converting to Christianity.
• They had been threatened with expulsion ever since converting three years ago.
14. Pastor killed
When: Aug 15
Where: Telarai, Malkangiri
• Pastor Gurumurthy Madi, 29, is killed by a group of Naxalites, after refusing to hand over a fellow pastor and former Naxalite who had converted to Christianity.
15. Christian couple killed
When: July 26
• Christian couple, Dhubaleswar (50) and Bhubudi (45) Nayak are allegedly killed by security forces while speaking on the phone to their son. Full story here.
16. Christian killed
When: July 5
Where: Kesara, Mohana, Gajapati
• Purna Mallick is killed by a mob, after two people in the village die of sickness and their sickness is blamed on Mallick’s Christian faith.
• Mallick’s five children are bathed in cow dung by other relatives as an act of ritual purification.
17. Pastor sexually assaulted and stabbed
When: Aug 23
Where: Batala, Gurdaspur
• Female pastor Rani Gil is sexually assaulted and stabbed by Sikh extremists.
• Another church leader is assaulted.
• Mob urinates all over church, including over a cross.
18. Church attacked
When: Aug 14-16
Where: Pimpri-Kalewadi Bridge, Kalewadi
• Christian prayer gathering interrupted by extremists, who beat Christians and cut church’s electricity.
• The next day, the pastor puts security on the door, but a larger group of extremists arrive and force their way in, again beating the Christians present.
• Pastor files case with police, who provide protection for third day of gathering.