Church were the incident happened
On Sunday, 07th January, Rev Binaya Kumar Guru, of the FMPB (French Missionary Prayer Band) along with 7 other Christians, had gone to Dahanu Taluk between Mumbai and Surat, which is in Palghar District of Maharashtra. They were visiting the villagers to strengthen them as they had been facing persecution and hostile threats for the past several months, from the local villagers, who wanted to evict the foreign religion from the village.
Apparently, on the 5th of January, the Village Heads had come to a consensus after a meeting, that the Church building in the village, must be demolished. On the 06th they served notice and send people to demolish the Church. Totally unprepared for this hostile turn of events, resisted all attempts to demolish the Church Building. They approached the local Police Station in Dahanu, the Superintendent of Police (SP), Palgar District, asking for Police Protection and for the Christians in the village and for the Church building.
The Police were reluctant to accept the application.
They said, “don’t write that the Villagers are threatening; instead write that there is some trouble in the village. Also, don’t mention that you need ‘Police protection’ instead mention ‘support from the Police ‘in the application”.
Around 40 believers had to wait the whole day – from 8.00 am until late 7:30 pm, to re-write the application. After much paperwork and bureaucracy, the application was accepted.
The believers are mostly the Warlis who are an indigenous tribe or Adivasis, living in mountainous as well as coastal areas of Maharashtra-Gujarat border and surrounding areas.
On Sunday, 07th January, as per the request of our believers, members of FMPB – 2 Evangelists and 6 believers from 3 different villages joined the local Christians for Sunday worship. As a Police Complaint was lodged at Dahanu Police Station, 3 Policemen were sent for our protection.
The worship service started at 10.30 am and concluded at 1.15 pm. In the presence of the Police, the situation was calm; the worship meeting with Communion service was peaceful. After the Service was over, Police left the venue as things were normal and the team got ready to leave.
As the team were packing up to leave, a group of religious fundamentalists and locals who had instigated by the Ganjad Government School Teachers, local village sewaks – more than a hundred people – some drunken men surrounded the team. They blocked the road with branches that were covered with thorns. They verbally and physically assaulted them. A woman belonging to the radical team, took away the helmet and motor-bike key of the Pastor. The Police were informed and they rushed back to normalize the situation and rescued the FMPB team to safety.
Unfortunately, the aftermath of this incident, precipitated a violent reaction and the Christians that were residents of the village, were attached by the locals. Armed with weapons and lathis, they converged on the houses of the Christians. Fearing escalation of violence and for their lives, over 25 Christians abandoned their homes, their land, their cattle, and fled to the nearby heavily forested area and mountains, seeking shelter. Hungry and exhausted, around 12 of them have been rescured and temporarily resettled in other nearby communities. However, around 15 Christians are still unaccounted for. A search of the rest of the Christians is underway.
The Church building has been completely vandalized – the sanctity of the sanctuary desecrated, the doors, windows, chairs and tables, musical instruments completely destroyed.
Persecution Relief Team received a call at 11.00 pm on the 07th, from Pastor Binaya Kumar Guru. They discussed the tense situation prevailing in the village. Persecution Relief Founder assured him of support and offered alternate accommodation for the displaced villagers. He also assured Pastor of livelihood support for the villagers, until the time they are relocated to the village.
Church, please pray for this serious turn of events. Pray against the anti-Christ spirit. Pray for wisdom, God’s counsel and peace to prevail in the hearts of the believers. May they continue to keep their eyes of their heart focused on the truth of God’s Word, where they will find rest, safety and peace for their souls.