COFFIN BROKEN AND SET ON FIRE BY FANATICS, UTTAR PRADESH.
The body of a Christian was forcefully cremated by a large group of religious fanatics. The coffin that carried the body was broken and added to the pyre in the presence of the deceased’s family. This happened in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh on the 8th of September 2020.
“*Mr. Rohit tragically died from an electric shock on the 7th of September. He was working in another Indian state when the accident took place. His wife, 3 sons, and 10-year-old daughter are all a part of our church” said *Veena, the daughter of the family’s Pastor.
Speaking to Persecution Relief, *Pr. Naveen said, “The family of the deceased called me as soon as they received the sad news. I immediately traveled to their village which is around 4 km away to stand with them during this painful time.”
The Pastor told Persecution Relief that upon reaching the deceased’s home, he saw that the family had already arranged for a coffin to conduct a Christian burial for their father. “When the fanatics saw the coffin placed outside the home, they got angry” he added.
“If you want to continue staying in this village, then Mr. Rohit will be cremated as per our beliefs. He will not be buried in this box”, they warned the heartbroken family, said Veena, who also shared that they were the only Christian family in that village.
The Pastor narrated how the inconsolable family proceeded to the graveyard to bury the body of Mr.Rohit. “We were around 500 meters away from the house when around 20 workers of a religious extremist group arrived and created chaos,” he said.
“The Group began to curse me and abuse me with filthy language. They refused to allow me to pray and showed no sympathy toward the family that was already dealing with a great and unexpected loss” the Pastor narrated.
In an outrageous display of religious intolerance, the fanaticsasked the family to take the body out of the coffin and collect wood to cremate the body according to their religious beliefs. They then broke the coffin and burned it along with the cremation pyre. “It was an unpleasant experience, especially for the grieving widow and her four young children” Veena added.
“A few of them then approached me and snatched my satchel off my shoulder. In it were a Bible, power bank, and a little money to help the bereaved family” said the Pastor.
“The men never gave my satchel back and threatened to kill me if they ever see me in that area again. One present amongst them works with the ruling party and has an influential position in that area. He ill-treated me too” said Pr.Naveen.
The Pastor said that even his friend who is a local media, bureau chief, was not spared. “The family has been warned to recant their Christian faith and return to their old beliefs, otherwise they will not be allowed to stay in their village,” said the Pastor.
After the incident, the fanatics caught hold of the deceased’s sons. “The men forcefully shaved the heads of all three sons saying that it had to be done as per their religious beliefs,” said Pastor Naveen, stressing on how this act has added more pain to their sorrow.
“Mr. Rohit’s oldest son is disturbed after the incident. He said that his father loved Jesus and took his Bible wherever he went. The widow of Mr. Rohit is also in a sorry state. I feel bad about what has happened” said Veena.
Pray for the bereaved family to experience God’s comfort, peace, and love during this very sad time. Pray that God’s protection would rest upon the widow and her 4 young children. Pray that the fanatics would not harass the family and respect their privacy at this time and even in the future. Pray for Pr. Naveen and the Church, that they would continue to stand strong in the Lord. Pray that all the religious fanatics would turn awayfrom these inhuman and wicked ways, and in the days to come, God would powerfully meet with them.
In the 1st Half of 2020, Persecution Relief recorded 293 cases of Christian Persecution. In 2019 alone, we recorded the maximum number of 527 cases compared to 447 cases in 2018, 440 in 2017, and 330 in 2016. From January 2016 to June 2020, Persecution Relief has recorded 2067 cases of Hate crimes against Christians in India.
The US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has downgraded India to the lowest ranking, ‘Countries of Particular Concern’(CPC) In its 2020 report. The US State Department 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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