Police Brutality Against Christians ! Madhya Pradesh
Lalu Girwal, a young man was mercilessly beaten up by a Town Inspector on the 11th of June 2020. This incident took place at the Manpur Police Station which features in Indore in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. Persecution Relief spoke to Arjun Osari, Lalu’s Pastor about what had happened, “Lalu had gone to the police station at around 11am to pick up his wallet, mobile phone and a few other belongings, but the Town Inspector began to physically assault him for no rhyme or reason. The Inspector beat him up with his wooden rod and then instructed another police officer to do the same.” He said. Lalu had to be taken to the hospital as he was in pain after the assault.
Further explaining the situation to Persecution Relief, Osari said, “on Sunday, the 7th of June, I was at my Uncle’s place where the Church usually meets. Typically, sick people often come for prayers to us.
The village scenario is very different from the cities, we live here as a closed knitted family and a Pastor is recognized as somebody to whom we go for prayer and be healed in the name of Jesus. Many times we try to stay away but these innocent villagers just come to us for various personal needs. As a Shepherd I also get carried away at times looking at the need of my sheep.”
He further added that at around 3pm in the afternoon when almost everyone had left, two police jeeps parked right in front of his uncle’s house. The police men hastily got out of their vehicles and rushed towards the Christians with sticks and began to beat them up without giving them any explanation. As the police cursed and swung their sticks at the Christians including the women present, it soon became evident that the police had received a complaint from someone in the village about a mass conversion going on. “The attitude of the police was not right. They seemed like they were instructed by someone to desperately harass the Christians, rather than helping innocent people realize their fault.” Said Pastor Arjun.
The Christians begged for pity. They urged and pleaded the police to stop beating them and were willing to peacefully go to the police station.
“But the police refused to listen” said Arjun. “Later my Uncle Murhe Singh, his wife- Ram Kaur Bai, his daughter-Salita baiand Lalu were arrested and taken to the Police Station.”
“We deeply regret gathering to pray that afternoon. Yes, the government has ordered a lockdown,” Said Pastor Arjun. “Lockdown measures are not as intense as they are in other urban places as in villages. We are not that well informed about the situation”, he added.
Mohan Dawar was the one to call Persecution Relief and inform us about this incident. He is a Christian from a neighboring village and a member of the same church. Lalu, used to minister at the same prayer meetings which he used to attend. Being concerned about the Christians he said, “They were ready to surrender and go to the Police Station, then why did the Police start beating them unnecessarily, harassing the women and putting them in jail. False charges were made against these believers. They only gathered at home to pray, nothing else.”
The four people who were arrested were booked under 7 sections- IPC. 188, 147, 149, 353, 332, 186, 151. Since it was a Sunday, the believers, were kept at the Police Station the entire night. The next day, Pastor Arjun applied for bail. But after authorities reviewed the case, only a few of the sections were were waived off and their release was delayed. The mother and the daughter were shifted to a women’s jail in Indore around 45 kms away from the village while the men were shifted to another facility.
After the release from jail
On the 10th of June, Murhe Singh, his wife, daughter and Lalu were granted bail by the help of ADF India. They were released after being imprisoned for almost 5 days. Altogether, 30 people have been booked under Section 188 of the IPC for breaking curfew norms.
Uttam Kumar, a Christian Leader who personally knows the believers said, “They shouldn’t have gone against the government’s rules, but the fact is, most villages don’t understand the seriousness of the lockdown. Hence, life goes on as usual.”
Speaking to Persecution Relief, Pastor Arjun said, “We were willing and ready to go with the Police, there was no need for them to beat us up. We were not defending ourselves, yet they mercilessly thrashed us, not even sparing the women. We accept the charges against breaking the curfew, but are the other charges justified? Was the physical assault by the police justified? Was this lawful?”
Pastor Jayakar Kristi, who serves a church and has a small business to support his ministry said that besides the other charges, the allegations of forced religious conversion was absolutely false. “They were praying for the sick people who came to be prayed over.” He said. “Christians are often targeted in this way. It is my calling and passion to help the people who are persecuted for their faith. I am happy to invest my time and resources to help people in the community. I do this so that they would be strengthened and move forward, not backward. I pray and hope that all four Christians would be acquitted of the false charges. I am making every effort for this to happen.”
Persecution Relief request and urges all Churches, missionaries, leaders and Christians to follow Government protocol. We must be wise in our actions to prevent ourselves from getting into trouble. The Covid-19 crisis is unprecedented and needs the cooperation of the entire nation. We must make it a priority to honour the rules and regulations that are instated by the Government. As disciples of Christ, it is our duty to lead by example and be known as law abiding citizens.
For more informations on Guidelines of Sunday Worship during lockdown please watch the Video in Hindi and forward to all Pastors and Churches across India.
Do pray that the believers would be righteously judged and for them to be acquitted of the false charges. Lets also lift up the police force in our prayers. Lets pray that they would not manipulate their authority but act responsibly.
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) 2020 Annual Report has given India its harshest rating since 2004.
The commission recommended that the State Department of USA designate India as a “country of particular concern,” or CPC, because it “tolerated particularly severe violations of religious freedom.” 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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