Sunday worship service attacked, Pastor & believers beaten, West Bengal
Video of the incident
Persecution of Christians in India continues to rise – Easter Sunday saw an alarming spike in attacks on worship services, with increasing intolerance and unprovoked violence across India.
In West Bengal, in village Nandkishorepur, Post Office Narayangarh, West Medinipur District, Pastor Tolas Mandi ministers at Thomas Christian Church. In a separate hall, built adjacent to this residence, believers gather every Sunday to worship for the past 10 years.
Residents of all religions in the area, have enjoyed a relatively cordial relationship. Therefore, targeting the Christian minority, came as a shock to Pastor Tolas, especially on Easter, a significant festival for Christians.
On Sunday, 21st April, 2019, the day of the incident, worship service had started at 11.00 am. Around 30 believers, predominantly from the Santal Tribe (The Scheduled Tribes (STs) are officially designated groups of historically disadvantaged people in India)were in the presence of the Lord. Around 12 noon, mid-way through the service, all of them were deeply engrossed and focused on God, when the attack took place. Taken totally by surprise, right-wing religious fanatics barged into the meeting shouting slogans and terrorizing the congregation. They began indiscrimately beating up the Pastor who was leading the worship, the elders and members of the congregation who came to the rescue of the Pastor. The fanatics demanded that the worship service be stopped and the place vacated.
Pastor Tolas, his Father Upurno Mandi, his brother Debu Hasta, father’s brother Chetan Singh and his wife Belo Singh, were physically assaulted alleging conversions. and suffered injuries.
The mob vandalized everything inside the Church – musical instruments, sound system, furniture etc. They collected Holy Bibles that were in the Church, and took them along with them, to be burned. After accomplishing what they had set out to do, they stole a new Bicycle, that was parked outside – the only means of conveyance for Pastor. The Church has suffered loss of approximately around Rs. 25,000/-.
Further, they left threatening the family, never to conduct any prayer meetings at their home in future or face dire consequences in the future.
Speaking to Persecution Relief, Pastor Nabin Mandi, a senior Christian Leader in the area and other Pastors, together went to Narayangarh Police Station, and lodged a complaint. A FIR was lodged but none of the perpetrators have been taken into custody so far.
Pastor Nabin added that he has heard from reliable sources, that the fanatics have planned similar attacks the following Sunday, to a Church belonging to Assembly of New Indian Church in the neighbourhood.
Church, pray for Pastor Tolas, his family members and the congregation. Pray for peace of God, that surpasses human understanding, to fill their hearts and mind and dispel all fear. Pray that they will continue to be steadfast and burn brightly for Jesus Christ in the same locality. Pray for the persecutors that they will be ashamed and repentant of their actions.
Persecution Relief has recorded more than 477 persecution incidents in 2018, across the 29 states of India. The doors of a multitude of Churches have been sealed and scores arrested on false charges of indulging in conversion activities.
In 2018, West Bengal recorded 7 incidents of hate-crime against Christians. However, in just the 1st Quarter of 2019, West Bengal has already recorded 6 incidents so far.
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