74-Year-Old Grandmother, 3 year old boy and other Christians attacked . West Bengal
From a 74-year-old great-grandmother to her 3-year-old great grandson, 4 generations were beaten up by religious fanatics.
*Ramesh gathered his young little grandchildren and 74-year-old mother along with his wife and daughter to pray on the 26th of May 2020 at around 4:30pm in the evening. Ramesh and his family live in West Bengal, an eastern state in India. Being grateful that God had blessed them with a good harvest, they spent time giving thanks to God for his favor upon their lives in song and prayer.
As *Ashok, Ramesh’s son, narrates this story to Persecution Relief, he explains that a few people from their neighborhood came running towards them shouting and yelling while they were praying.
Ramesh’s mother who is 74yrs old got up to inquire with them but instead, the fanatics including women rushed toward them in a fury. They started yelling at Ramesh and his family who were all sitting inside their home and praying. “Why are you praying here? How many times have we told you not to pray here?” As soon as the family rushed out hearing the screams of the grand-mother, the group of religious fanatics surrounded them and started beating them up.
Amongst those being beaten and attacked were Ramesh (52), his wife (44), his mother (74), his daughter (23), his granddaughter (5), and his grandson (3).
Ashok and his wife are missionaries and currently serve in the Indian state of Telangana while their two young children are being cared for by Ramesh and the rest of the family. Working as a missionary with their young children far away from them in the care of their parents, itself is a huge sacrifice and not an easy task for any parent. Yet they have dedicated their lives to Jesus Christ and made a decision to serve in the mission field irrespective of their current situation.
Ashok and his wife who come from a very simple and poor family, were devastated at the news and sobbing bitterly while speaking to Persecution Relief. “My aged Grandmother sustained serious injuries to her head and bled profusely while my young little children are hurt and in shock after the attack.” Exclaimed Ashok. Pastor Raju who is also Ramesh’s Pastor, told Persecution Relief that a neighbor who tried to tear up the fight was also injured during the attack. However, a few others who lived in the vicinity rushed the wounded family in their vehicle to a nearby government hospital after seeing the seriousness of the injuries.
Apparently, the doctor at the government hospital refused to treat them and called the police. Once the police arrived, the situation was explained to them. They were then referred to another government district hospital. There they received treatment and were discharged by midnight. Pastor Raju stayed with them till they were attended to and went the next day to visit them as well.
Persecution Relief was able to speak to Ashok’s mother on a conference call. She speaks only Bengali hence, Ashok translated for us. She was very sad and disappointed while narrating the incident, expressing great grief and concern over her mother and grandson being attacked resulting in his ear bleeding. On the 22nd of March the same people, deliberately picked up a fight with my Father Ramesh, regarding some land issue. The issue was later sorted out with the help of local village committee.
On 28th May, when the local Pastor visited the house of Ramesh the fanatics threatened Pastor also and they said we don’t want you to come here again to conduct prayer meeting.
With the Covid-19 crisis, the family who is very poor, is already going through a really tough time. The medical bills come as an added expense, however, by God’s grace, Persecution Relief has sent financial aid and is currently supporting them through this challenging time.
What makes a person’s perspective of life shift so drastically that he/she is unable to feel remorse while attacking a 74-year-old woman and a 3-year-old child? In this case, what has caused these fanatical neighbors to take such extreme inhuman measures to stop Ramesh and his family from exercising their faith? The family was just having a time of prayer in their own home, during the early hours of the evening without any intentions of troubling anybody. Then why were they attacked so brutally? What could be the cause of such hostile behavior?
Life as we know it is fleeting in front of our eyes with a Pandemic, Cyclone, Landslide, earthquake, locusts and many other issues that are currently threatening our existence. Over the past few years, sections of the ruling party and fringe groups that promote religious nationalism have politicized religion to such an extent wherein the influence of religion on politics has had damaging and disastrous effects on the population of the country. It is high time to rise above the poison of extremist’s attitudes, hate speeches, communal hatred and religious intolerance. For the sake of life, for the sake of the country.
Since January 2019 up until March 2020, Persecution Relief has recorded 28 hate crimes against Christians in West Bengal. Persecution Relief requests the Honorable Chief Minister of West Bengal, Ms. Mamata Banerjee, who has often advocated religious freedom in the Indian state of West Bengal, to look into this matter and address the issue at the earliest. On behalf of the Christian community in West Bengal and India at large, we will be grateful for your timely and much required intervention. Thank you.
Let’s unite in prayer for Ramesh and his family. That they would experience God’s provision, protection and healing during this time. Pray especially for the aged grandmother and the two little children. Let’s pray that the religious fanatics would stop harassing the family, that God would soon meet with them in a miraculous way and transform their hearts and minds. Pray that in the coming days the state of West Bengal would experience true freedom to worship Jesus Christ.
Psalm 44:17 says, ‘All this happened to us, though we had not forgotten you or been false to your covenant. This Psalm describes how even though we may be faithful to God, we may still go through suffering on this earth for a little while. However, the Psalmist still ends the Psalm promising to continue to trust in God. We may be tempted to give up on God and His promises when we face fiery trials, but let us be assured that He never chooses to watch over us as we go through our trials, rather, he chooses to walk with us, hand in hand , and guide us through it.
From January 2016 to March 2020, Persecution Relief has recorded 1961 cases of Hate crimes against Christians in India. In the 1st Quarter of 2020, we recorded 187 cases. Between 1st Quarter of 2016 to 1st Quarter of 2020, there has been a rise of 128.04 % of Hate Crimes against Christians all across the country. In 1st Quarter of 2016, we have recorded 82 cases, in 2017 – 134, 2018 – 117, 2019 – 130 and in 2020 we recorded 187 cases of Christian Persecution. In 2019 alone, Persecution Relief has recorded the maximum number of 527 cases compared to 447 cases in 2018, 440 in 2017 and 330 in 2016.
In 2019 we have recorded 199 incidents related to Threats, Intimidations & Harassments against Christians, 104 incidents of Church attacks, 85 incidents of Physical Violence reported which includes Women & Children, 100s of House Churches were forcefully closed down by Religious Fanatics and the local administrations. US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) ranked India’s persecution severity at “Tier 2” along with Iraq and Afghanistan. Over the past seven years, India has risen from No. 31 to No. 10 on Open Doors’ World Watch List, ranking just behind Iran in persecution severity.
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