Christians attacked with Knives & Sickles. Telangana.
Persecution Relief was recently alerted by our correspondent about a case of Christian Persecution. The case involved the very neighbours of the victims attacking them with knives and sickles. We spoke to *Pastor John who was amongst those attacked. He told us that for the past 4 years, him and his team have been continually and constantly harassed by a family in their neighbourhood because of their faith and religious beliefs.
Pastor John and his team live together at a mission house and are a part of a ministry that is led by a well-known Pastor in the southern Indian state of Telangana. The Christians who serve within this ministry have willingly renounced a normal lifestyle and practice celibacy.
They dedicate their lives to whole heartedly serve the Christian faith and the community at large.Well known by the other families who live in the same colony, the ministry team have never faced any issues and have lived peaceably within their neighbourhood, except for the family that that has been harassing them.
Early in the evening on the 20th of May 2020, *Pastor John and a few others decided to wash the vehicle that the ministry owned. They made their way to where the vehicle was parked, and connected the pipe to the water tap. As they began to spray the vehicle, the entire family who lived opposite them including the women, charged towards them wielding knives and sickles and hurling insults at them.
Seeing the angry group attacking his companions, Pastor John ran to rescue them but soon realized that they were outnumbered and found themselves in grave danger.
Hearing the commotion, *Mother Ruth (as she is respectfully known as)- an elderly woman and a senior in the ministry, rushed out to see what was happening. As she tried to bring the chaos under control, the raging neighbours grabbed her too without any remorse, and hit her so hard that she began to bleed from her head.
Realizing that they had done a lot of damage, the family then cunningly and quickly made their way to the local police station and filed a fabricated complaint against the ministry team, saying that they were the ones to attack a woman from their family, after which she was injured and fell unconscious.
4 years of prolonged enmity, harassment and provocations never pushed the Christians to retaliate or go against their difficult neighbours. “We have never resorted to fight back. As followers of Christ, we always choose to forgive them as we have been taught to forgive those who persecute us.” Said *Pastor John. However, since their assailants made a false complaint against them, they were left with no other options to prove their innocence hence, they lodged a complaint revealing horrific details about the attack. The Police in turn have booked the assailants under 324,504,509 R/w34 IPC.
Why do these attacks take place? What is its root cause? Who is to blame? Who should be held responsible? Is it normal for neighbours of different faiths to fight amongst themselves or is there a more serious and underlying issue? Do you think it is just a menial fight or is it full fledged religious persecution?
We all know the difference between a simple tiff and an attack involving 7-8 people wielding knives and sickles. With no genuine reason or provocation, the attackers were ready with dangerous weapons and waited to ambush their victims. Doesn’t this seem pre-planned? The assailants claimed that their sister was attacked by the victims when in fact, they were the ones to come out of their homes and attack the victims while they were washing the car. The victims had no intention of picking up a fight. They contradict themselves in this statement.
So, what is Religious Persecution?
Religious persecution is defined as the systematic mistreatment of an individual or a group of individuals as a response to their religious beliefs or affiliations or their lack thereof.
The ministry team have emphasized the fact that their attackers have been harassing them because of their religious orientation for the past 4 years but they have always opted to maintain peace. The harassment kept getting more and more intense till it led them to use force and weapons to harm the victims. If you were a part of the team, would you consider this assault as a case of religious persecution?
Universally, Christians are identified as peace-loving and law-abiding people. As a drop of water is to an ocean, the Christian community comprises just 2.3% of the entire population of India. The country has been immensely blessed and has profited greatly from the Christian faith.
This is proven time and again by health care, social work, educational and many other charitable institutions that Christians run, even to this very day. How has such a menial people group managed to contribute so greatly to a vast and varied nation like India? Why is the majority religion slowly turning against a religion that has never meant any harm?
We hear of stories wherein locals attacked a vegetable vendor, destroyed his cart, threatened to kill him and warned him not to enter that locality ever again. Why? Because he was identified to be a man of another faith, from his outward appearance and attire. What was his mistake? He was only earning a livelihood to care for his family and himself!
Why is this happening? Have we taken time out to ponder on these issues? Or do we simply not care enough? Are we playing our part? We may turn a blind eye towards the current situation of hostility against religious minorities in the country but have we thought about what is causing it?
Recent news reports show an increasing number of attacks on religious minorities that were inspired by speeches made by irresponsible leaders of our nation. The masses are being misled and brainwashed by selfish and power-hungry leaders and politicians who through their hate-speeches and diabolical schemes spread poison and encourage communal hatred at the cost our precious country.
We need to wake up! It’s high time for India to unite and fight against division-our greatest nemesis. In the midst of economic meltdown, pandemic, poverty and natural disasters, we need to reach over all boundaries of race, religion, caste, creed and join hands to strengthen each other and our beloved nation. We havethe power to refuse getting enticed by those who are trying to divide and rule. As the old saying proves true, “United we stand, divided we fall”
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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