INDIA: PASTOR CHARGED UNDER NEW LAW AFTER MOB STRIKES
Armed Hindu extremists in Madhya Pradesh reportedly disrupted worship services at two churches recently, beat congregation members and pressured police to arrest more than 20 Christians on suspicion of forcible conversion.
Under a new anti-conversion law that came into effect in the central Indian state on January 9, police in Alirajpur District charged one of the two churches’ pastors with forcible conversion.
According to Morning Star News (MSN), Pastor Malsingh Meda and 21 members of his village church were arrested, as was pastor Dilipsingh Vasunia, who leads a church in another village. Meda was later released, while Vasunia was charged with forcible conversion and bailed.
Though police reached both villages before the Hindu extremist attacks on the worship services, they did nothing to stop the damage to the church buildings or the assaults on the Christians, eyewitnesses told MSN.
‘I was conducting the service when one of them [Hindu extremists], carrying a gun, came and slapped me twice on my face,’ Pastor Meda told MSN. ‘Then another man carrying a gun approached me and slapped me, then three others carrying wooden sticks came one after another and hit me with the sticks.’
Before attacking his church, the mob had disrupted the Sunday service of Pastor Vasunia’s congregation. Police later that day charged Vasunia under the new anti-conversion law.
- Thank God for the witness of Christians in India who continue to meet and worship together despite the threat from Hindu extremists.
- Pray that the charge against Pastor Vasunia would be dropped and that those responsible for attacking the two churches would find faith in Christ and turn away from violence.
- Ask God to protect Christians from mob attacks and false charges and pray that India’s anti-conversion laws would be repealed.
The court case of Christian pastor Zafar Bhatti, who has been in prison in Pakistan since 2012, was adjourned in the Rawalpindi High Court last week until April 15. We thank God that Zafar’s needs in prison are being met but please pray that his appeal against a blasphemy conviction would succeed. In 2019 a judge said there was no evidence against Zafar and that he should be released. His appeal hearings have been adjourned on numerous occasions.
(Sources: Morning Star News; Release contacts)