INDIA: Hindu Extremists Attack Pastors
In India gospel ministry continues to be targeted by Hindu nationalists, with church leaders frequently being accused of breaching conversion laws, writes Release’s Kenneth Harrod.
Pastor Ram Niwas (pictured) and his wife willingly accepted the invitation to attend a prayer meeting at the home of a member of his congregation. But the small meeting was to come to an abrupt and violent end.
A group of Hindu nationalists broke in, accused the pastor of converting people, and attacked both he and his wife with iron rods and sticks. The attackers warned the pastor that he would be killed if he didn’t either leave the area or stop his gospel ministry.
The couple, along with their host, a Mr Nagender, were all taken to the local hospital with head injuries. Release’s partner in India was called and was able to provide some financial support to pay for hospital treatment.
‘Pastor Samaru was dragged from his pulpit’
Pastor Niwas has been running an independent church in the Sitamari district of Bihar state, in the north of India, for the past eight years. During that time he has faced several threats from local Hindu nationalists. But he has persevered in his ministry.
On many occasions in India the disruption of church services and prayer meetings is coupled with accusations that a pastor is indulging in some form of fraudulent conversion activities.
Pastor Samaru was dragged from his pulpit during an Easter service at his church in Madhya Pradesh. The attackers taunted him and warned him to stop leading Christian services in the area. Later they informed the local police, who arrested him. He was questioned at the police station before Release partners and other local church leaders were called to intervene. Later the same day he was released without being charged with committing any offence.
This pattern of intimidation and accusation is repeated constantly across India, although, according to our partner, there has never been a court conviction of a Christian pastor under anti-conversion laws.
Earlier this year tougher anti- conversion laws were passed in Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat and a similar law is awaiting approval in Uttar Pradesh. Release’s partner fears that other states in India could move to adopt similar, tougher laws – which will continue to be used by extremists to hinder legitimate gospel ministry.
- Please continue to pray for pastors in India – especially those who face attacks and accusations intended to hinder their ministry. Pray that stricter anti-conversion laws will not be passed across the country.
Population: 1.3 billion
Capital: New Delhi
Government: Federal parliamentary republic
Religion: Hindu 74%, Muslim 14 %, Christian 6%, other 6%
Sources: World Factbook, Operation World.
RELEASE INTERNATIONAL’S MINISTRY IN INDIA
Thanks to your gifts, Release helps persecuted Christians in India by providing:
- financial and practical help for victims of attacks
- financial support for the families of martyrs
- legal help and advice
- Bibles and Christian literature for outreach and discipleship
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