NEWS BRIEFS

China Aid Association
Recent Incidents of
Persecution

Madhya Pradesh, April 3 (Compass Direct News) — About 30
Hindu extremists belonging to the Dharma Sena (Religious Army) attacked
250 Christians on April 1 (Palm Sunday) during final prayers at St. Paul’s
Church in Gokulpur, Jabalpur, in Madhya Pradesh. The church belongs to the
Church of North India, according to the Global Council of Indian Christians.
Seven Christians injured in the attack were hospitalized and released on April
2. Sources said Yogesh Agrawal and other officers of the Dharma Sena
led the attackers, who reportedly arrived on motorbikes and were armed with
sticks and swords, breaking windshields and headlights of parked vehicles. The
extremists then beat some of the Christians; James Masih, presbyter in-charge of
St. Paul’s Church, suffered internal injuries. Sources said the extremists also
struck with bats Masih’s 5-year-old son, who was playing the Congo drum. The
extremists cursed and insulted the congregation and the Christian faith,
accusing them of fraudulently converting poor Hindus. Two Dharma Sena
extremists were injured, though it was unclear whether from falling from
their motorbikes or from the Christians defending themselves; police have
registered charges against the two hospitalized members of the Dharma
Sena.

Maharashtra — Seven or eight Hindu extremists wielding iron
rods beat Hemant Vashiani on March 31 at the 43-year-old pastor’s True Worship
Ministry Church in Dassera Maidan in Ulhasnagar, Thane district, in Maharashtra,
reported the Times of India. During a prayer service at about 9 p.m.,
the Hindu extremists barged into the assembly. “These men walked up to the dais
and slapped me,” Pastor Vashiani told Compass. “They shouted filthy abuses at
the Christian faith. They smashed the tube lights, sound system and broke the
keyboards. The men destroyed all the furniture in the church.” Abraham Mathai,
vice president of the Maharashtra State Minorities Commission, told Compass the
men were Hindu extremists from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh who
falsely accused the pastor of forcible conversion. Pastor Vashiani, who suffered
head injuries and a broken leg, was admitted to Shree Mahapotrai Hospital in
Ulhasnagar. At press time no arrests had been made.

Madhya Pradesh — Unidentified Hindu extremists attacked a
Christian procession on April 1 (Palm Sunday) in Madhya Pradesh state’s Damoh
district. According to the Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI), two Christians
received serious head injuries and were admitted to a mission hospital. A local
source said the incident took place when the procession, which included a large
number of Sunday school children from local churches, stopped at a shop for
sugarcane juice. A few Hindu extremists arriving on motorcycles asked if
participants were Christian. When one Christian refused to answer, the
extremists took hold of whatever objects they could find at the shop and beat
two Christians. Carrying arms, the extremists warned the Christians not to hold
any more processions. The attackers fled the scene as local residents began
gathering. The victims, whose names EFI kept anonymous for security reasons,
were immediately rushed to the hospital.

Karnataka — A group of Hindu extremists attacked the pastor
of an independent church and had him arrested on charges of “forced conversion”
on March 27 in the Moodbidri area of Karnataka state’s Dakshina Kannada
district. “The extremists trespassed into the house of Pastor Athishay Raj while
he was conducting a prayer meeting there,” Dr. Sajan K. George, national
president of the Global Council of India Christians, told Compass. The
assailants forced believers to leave the house before beating the pastor, who
received internal injuries. Later, they lodged a police complaint against Raj,
alleging that he was “forcibly” converting Hindus. The police promptly arrested
Raj, who was later released on bail. “When the pastor told the police to file
his complaint against the attackers, they refused to do so,” George said. Police
also have asked Christians in the district to obtain permission to hold any
Christian meetings in their homes. George said anti-Christian mobs were
succeeding in pressuring police to arrest Christian workers without verifying
allegations.

Karnataka — Hindu extremists attacked Smurna Holy Church in
Horamavu Agara village, Bangalore, in Karnataka state on March 7, and on March
10 they ambushed its pastor, Shyam Raj. At about 7 p.m., three men attacked
Pastor Raj as he rode his motorbike about one kilometer from his house, beating
him with wooden clubs. The assailants ran away after three women passing by
cried out. The next day, Pastor Raj tried to file a First Information Report at
the Hennur police station but police refused him; they only agreed to register
the complaint after the intervention of the Global Council of Indian Christians.
The morning of March 7, about 60 Hindu extremists from the Rashtriya
Swamsevak Sangh (RSS) had barged into the church compound. “They abused me
in filthy language and threatened to kill me, simultaneously some of the mob
began shouting “Jai Shree Ram, Jai Hanuman [Hail Lord Ram, Hail Lord
Hanuman],” Pastor Raj told Compass. Some of the Hindu extremists threw stones,
breaking the window panes of the church. The RSS extremists took Pastor Raj to
the Hennur Police Station and accused him of forcible conversion, and on March 8
he was detained until evening. “The police would not register any written
complaint against the Hindu extremists,” said Pastor Raj.

Himachal Pradesh — Police in Mandi district of Himachal
Pradesh state have refused to register the complaint of a Christian worker whom
Hindu extremists beat on February 25. “The attackers, some of who were local
residents, came with media personnel and took the photographs of the Christian
worker, Raj Kumar, in his house in Joginder Nagar, Mandi, where he conducts
Christian meetings,” Sam Abraham, secretary of the state chapter of the All
India Christian Council, told Compass. The extremists took Kumar to the Joginder
Nagar police station to try to get police to press charges against him for
“forcibly converting” Hindus, but after holding Kumar for interrogation the
officers declined to press charges. When Kumar was released, however, the
extremists attacked him near the police station, Abraham said. Kumar received
several injuries, but police refused to accept his subsequent complaint. “The
Christian worker later gave a written complaint to the district collector [head
of the district administration], but till today his complaint has not been
registered and the attackers remain at large,” Abraham said.



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