Stoned For Loving Jesus Christ, Chhattisgarh.
On the 5th of May, *Ramu, *Manu and 7 others, including women, were mercilessly beaten up by a group of religious fanatics at a village in the Indian State of Chhattisgarh. Why? Because they refused to forsake Christianity.
Narrating this incident to Persecution Relief, *Ramu said that for a while now, the group of fanatics have been tormenting the 5 Christian families that live in this village and threatening to grab their property, livestock, home and kick them out of the village if they refused to listen to them.
On the 4th of May a few villagers who deliberately wanted to harass *Ramu conducted a ritual on his field in spite of their own field being nearby. When Ramu went to his field that day, he found birds sacrificed along with other ritualistic articles lying around. He immediately confronted the fanatics about it but they abused him in return and told him that they would take him to task with the village council.
The very next day during the afternoon, the village council called a meeting. They summoned all the 5 Christian families to the meeting. Around 50-60 people had gathered together at one place, going head on against the Government’s orders of not gathering in groups of more than 4 people, in light of the Covid-19 Pandemic.
The Village council, whose minds were already instigated by the group of fanatics, told the Christian families to return to their gods and goddesses and turn away from Christianity or choose to leave the village. Being of sound mind and exercising their right to freely believe a faith that made sense to them, Ramu and the other Christian families refused to give into their demands. Enraged at their response, the group of around 20-25 angry religious fanatics ganged up and attacked the Christian families in the presence of the village council while the rest of the crowd turned into mere spectators. No one came forward to help!
The families were at the mercy of the raging mob. They scattered to save themselves from the rain of blows and constant kicks that engulfed them. Stones were thrown at them from all directions and sticks were used to mercilessly beat them. Satisfied with the physical assault that they had delivered, the fanatics left the horrific scene, followed by the rest of the village council, leaving the families to fend for themselves, battered and bruised on the floor.
One of the injured men managed to dial 108 and call for an ambulance which promptly arrived. A total of 9 people were assaulted, while 7 were rushed to the local government hospital for treatment, many of whom were women. Ramu was treated for wounds that he sustained on his body while Manu had to be hospitalized for 3 days because of the extent of his injuries. Sadly, 3 families have fled their village from fear of being attacked again. They have left inheritance, property, livestock, homes and more, all because they did not have the freedom to follow the faith of their choice.
The least Ramu could do was to make a complaint at the local police station and hope for justice and protection if his assailants strike back. He and Manu have not yet recovered from the brutal attack, the memories of which will haunt the families for a long time to come.
Religious persecution is just one of the many masks used to satisfy greed in terms of illegally acquiring another’s property, inheritance and belongings. Land grabbing has become very prevalent today, given the current situation of religious intolerance. Millions living in villages, helpless and vulnerable people who cannot fend for themselves, fall victim to it. The quest for power and control, propel self-centred politicians and authorities to operate under the cover of communal disharmony and religious persecution.
Dig deeper and you will find religious minority groups who make up a meagre percentage of the rural population, many of whom are left to fend for themselves. Scores of Christians have fled for their lives, succumbing under tremendous torture and persecution, leaving behind inheritance and everything that they ever lived for. Where do they go and who is going to help them?
The law of the land has been compiled with the best interest of the country in mind. It has the power to bring peace and well-being if revered and adhered to. In this case, section 144 of the IPC was completely disregarded. It states that 5 or more people cannot gather in one place, and if caught, the accused can be booked for rioting. Moreover, preventing a person from practicing and propagating the religion of his/her choice, challenges the secular status of India. Unfortunately, authorities, leaders and politicians have twisted and turned the constitution of the country, to fit their bill, use it for their benefit and at their convenience.
Our Honourable Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in a recent address regarded the constitution of India as his ‘Religion’. How should India translate this statement? How do we convince ourselves that he is upholding our constitution with utmost priority and reverence when we regularly hear about the increasingly horrific atrocities that surround the massive issue of religious persecution?
We as Persecution Relief, are on a mission to provide comprehensive support to the persecuted Church in India. With regards to this case, we have reached out in compassion to intentionally support the persecuted families, especially those who have lost everything and have been denied by community.
Not only have we extended financial aid towards medical expenses, groceries and other necessities but are also doing our best to spiritually encourage and uplift them in prayer.
Since January 2020, we have served more than 204 cases of Christian persecution in India. Of these, over 32 incidents involve Social boycott and discrimination, and this trend is alarmingly increasing. Some trust in Chariots and some in horses but we trust in a Living God. Our Goal is to ensure freedom to worship Jesus Christ in India.
Pray for the families to experience God’s comfort and peace that transcends all understanding. Pray for them to recover both physically and emotionally from the brutal attack. Pray that they would see God’s supernatural hand of provision over their lives. Pray that God would calm fears and that His people would be reminded about their identity- one of boldness not of fear. Most importantly, pray for the persecutors. Pray that God would miraculously change their hearts and ways. That they may have a personal revelation and encounter with the Prince of Peace.
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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