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Dinesh Patel: Hindu persecution of Christians

Reader comment on item: Something Rotten in Denmark?
in response to reader comment: I will be waiting for an answer

Submitted by Sarah (Sweden), Mar 14, 2006 at 17:18

Dear Dinesh Patel,
Being a Hindu from India, I am sure you're aware of the Hindu persecution of the religious minorities in your country of origin. There, both Christians and Muslims are being percecuted. Since you don't care about Muslims, I am giving below only some facts that show how Christians in India are persecuted in the hands of Hindus:

India's population is 80% Hindu, 12% Muslim, and 2.4% Christian. Both Muslims and Christians have been the object of attack by Hindu extremists who want to make India a Hindu state.

HINDU Extremist Groups:

Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) – the "National Volunteer Corp." – a nationalist Hindu party which espouses a return to Hindu values and cultural norms. The group was responsible for the murder of Mahatma Ghandi.
Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) – a Hindu religious organization affiliated with the RSS. On September 30, 1998 the Secretary of the VHP warned Christian missionaries to get out of India. In December of the same year the VHP announced that it would launch a campaign to stop missionaries from converting Hindus to Christianity.
Bajrang Dal – a militant Hindu youth organization which boasts about half a million members., many of whom receive military training.
Sangh Parivar – the extreme fanatical group that murdered missionary Graham Staines and his sons. It controls much of Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh states.

Christian Percecutions: SOME INCIDENTS:

May 22, 2003 - One Catholic nun was killed and another was injured after Islamic extremists threw grenades at the St. Lukas Convent School in Nai Basti, Anantnag in the Indian-controlled area of Kashmir. Sister Kamlesh was killed in the attack on the convent, which was believed to be a result of exaggerated media reports claiming thousands of Muslims were converting to Christianity in Kashmir. (Compass Direct)

March 26, 2003 - The Gujurat Freedom of Religion Bill was passed in the State Assembly. The bill bans religious conversions by coercion and stipulates a prison sentence of up to three years and a fine of 50,000 rupees for being involved in a forcible conversion. The law further states that all conversions must be registered and accepted by the District Magistrate. Failure to register a conversion is liable to a fine or up to one year in prison. (ANS)

March 12, 2003 - Hindus attacked and damaged a Protestant Church in Maharashtra after church members refused to re-convert to Hinduism. At least one member of the congregation has received death threats. (VOM)

March 2003 - Gospel for Asia reported that the men who beat Titus for showing the Jesus film are now eager to see the film themselves (see February 18, 2003 below). Titus' equipment was returned to him undamaged. (GFA/ANS)

February 2003 - A. Anthony, a Roman Catholic priest, was robbed at gunpoint in Chintalapudi. The culprits are believed to have been Hindu extremists. (Compass Direct)

February 2003 - The Criminal Investigation Department of Gujarat state has been conducting surveys among the Christian community in preparation for an anti-conversion bill scheduled to be considered by the state legislature in late March. Christians have complained that the surveys have been conducted in a very intimidating way. The surveys demanded information on the number of conversions, the reason for these conversions, as well as information on funding from overseas. The All-India Christian Council filed a complaint with the Gujarat High Court over the use of the surveys, which have currently been halted. Last year similar surveys were conducted in the Muslim community just prior to brutal attacks on the Muslim community by Hindu fundamentalists. (Compass Direct)

February 18, 2003 - An Indian evangelist and several of his team members were beaten while showing the Jesus film in Jharkhand. Twenty-six-year-old Titus was strangled, punched, and beaten with sticks until he passed out. Christian friends carried him to their house where an angry crowd later gathered to demand that Titus renounce his faith. He was beaten again when he refused to deny Christ. Currently the village leaders are refusing to return Titus's video equipment without a ransom and have demanded that he and two Christian families from the village provide food for 2,000 village people for two days. Village leaders may be plotting a way to force the two Christian families to return to an animist faith. (Gospel for Asia)

February 2003 - The BJP government is beginning to align itself more closely with the RSS and VHP (see extremist groups above) to advance the Hindutva agenda. It is feared that a national anti-conversion law similar to the one currently in place in Tamil Nadu may not be far off. Some new cabinet members are aggressively anti-missionary. (WEA)

February 2003 - Compass Direct reported that a list of at least 50 missionaries has been given to Indian authorities by the VHP, in hopes that they will be deported on visa violations such as the one used against Joseph Cooper. This could create difficulties for missionaries teaching in seminaries and Bible colleges.

January 20, 2002 - Missionary Joseph Cooper (see January 13, 2002 below) was ordered to leave the country within a week after being released from the hospital in Trivandrum. Police Superintendent Vinod Kumar said Mr. Cooper had violated the terms of his vistor's visa by preaching. (Washington Times)

January 13, 2002 - Joseph Cooper, a 67-year-old missionary from Pennsylvania was attacked by Hindu fanatics outside of Trivandrum in Kerala. Cooper was beaten with sticks and cut with a machete as he was returning from a church meeting. Indian pastor Benson Sam and his wife also sustained injuries in the attack. Cooper was taken to a Trivandrum hospital where he is being treated for a deep wound to his right palm and other cuts and bruises. RSS activists are believed to have been responsible.

December 25, 2002 - A Catholic church in Malipota, near the India-Bangladesh border was attacked during midnight mass. A priest and several others were injured as the attackers threw bombs at the church, forcing at least 1200 worshippers from the building. The Catholics were then robbed of their personal possessions, including wristwatches. (ANS)

December 6, 2002 - More than 9,500 Dalits wishing to convert to Christianity and be baptized were turned back by police in Chennai. Several people were beaten and 11 people who helped organize the mass conversion ceremony were arrested in connection with Tamil Nadu's new law against "forcible" conversions. Chairs set up for the event were also destroyed and various human rights violations were reported (ANS/AICC).

December 3, 2002 - A Christian worker and four Bible school students were eating dinner in Sauncer Taluka, Madhya Pradesh, when they were attacked by a group of 50-60 people armed with sticks. Some members of the crowd shouted, "We will burn you alive, and whichever village you will go, you will be beaten up there also." When the Christians reported the attack to local police they were accused of converting people. (EFI News)

December 2002 - Compass Direct reported that Mr. G. David, the Chief Superintendent of Prisons in Pondicherry was accused of forcibly converting prisoners by the Munanni Hindu fundamentalist group. However, the Inspector General of prisons said there were no reports of forced conversions, though 3 inmates had been recently baptized.

November 18, 2002 - A local pastor and three Operation Mobilization workers were beaten in Goa after showing the Jesus film in a family home. The men were attacked by a mob of about 30 people as they were sitting down to eat with the family, who had been very receptive to the film. The mob also damaged a vehicle used by the Christian workers. Police eventually dispersed the mob and the Christians were able to file a formal complaint. (ANS)

November 16, 2002 - Hindu militants punctured the tires of Pastor VM Samuel's vehicle while he was visiting another Christian's home in Udupi, Karnataka. When the pastor attempted to change the tires, an angry mob of RSS activists beat him and four other men. The mob also damaged a vehicle belonging to one of the Christians. Local police refused to register the case. All four men were hospitalized. (ANS)

November 2, 2002 - An armed gang attacked the convent of St. Mary of the Angels in Parthibanoor, Tamil Nadu state. The gang knocked a security guard unconscious, cut telephone lines, and stole $450. The nuns were able to keep safe by locking themselves in a room. (Compass Direct)

October 6, 2002 - The governor of Tamil Nadu, P S Ramamohan Rao, issued an ordinance banning religious conversions by "fraudulent means" or "forcible allurement." The punishment for violating the ordinance is up to 3 years imprisonment and/or a fine up to Rs. 50,000. All religious conversions must also be reported to district authorities according to the ordinance. The new ordinance does not bode well for Christians, who are commonly accused of using coercion to produce converts because they offer food and medical care to the poor. Hindu fundamentalist groups are happy with the new ordinance and hope other states will adopt similar legislation.

September 22, 2002 - Eight Korean missionaries in Bihar State were beaten during worship services by members of the Bajrang Dal, a militant youth organization.

August 2002 - A group opposed to the construction of a church building in Maharashtra state burned church materials, including corrugated sheets of metal, during the middle of the night. The building materials had just been purchased with a special fund raised by church members. (Intercessors Network)

July 29, 2002 - The Bharatiya Janata Party, India's major political party, has gone public with their anti-Christian agenda. BJP vice president, Kailashpati Mishra, accused Christian missionaries of provoking large scale violence in the North Indian state of Jharkhand. In a separate incident, a BJP member presided at a mass conversion ceremony where 400 tribal Christians were reconverted to Hinduism. (Compass Direct)

July 23, 2002 - A secret 4 page circular is being circulated among extremist Hindus. It calls for a "terror campaign to be waged against tribals, backward castes, Muslims, and Christians." The circular gives detailed instructions on how to terrorize and ethnically cleanse India from these people groups. It calls for rape, riots, assassinations, infecting of infants to create handicap, and the poisoning of food and liquor. Propaganda is strategically being spread through the media. The instructions at the end of the circular say, "this paper is to be burned and destroyed after passing the instructions along." (Compass Direct)

July 18, 2002 - Sister Vrishi Ekka, a Catholic Ursuline nun 56 years of age, was sentenced to 6 months imprisonment for converting Hindus to Christianity. Christian Schools closed in protest and Hindu fundamentalists groups retaliated staging protest marches outside the schools. The court deemed the schools actions as provocative and said the Christian organizations have no business protesting the verdict. (Compass Direct)

June 16, 2002 - 143 Christians from the Oram, Munda, and Khadia tribes were "reconverted" to Hinduism in a ceremony in Tainser village organized by the VHP. Church leaders have protested these reconversions, noting that the tribals followed indigenous beliefs before becoming Christians; they were never Hindus. This is only one of many reconversion drives being carried out by the VHP, which is known to use violence and intimidation. (Compass)

June 12, 2002 - Gladys Staines' husband, Australian missionary Graham Staines, and her two sons were burned to death by a mob of Hindu fundamentalists. On June 12, Gladys made her first appearance at the district court of Orissa and told her testimony. She "faced hostile questioning on her role in using the Leprosy Mission to convert people to Christianity." Disturbed by the testimonies, Hindu fundamentalists are working to save prime suspect Dara Singh, hero in the Hindu belt of Orissa. (Compass)

June 7, 2002 - Gospel for Asia (GFA) reported that a GFA Bible school student was murdered in Indian controlled Kashmir. IT is believed that local Muslim extremists were responsible for his death. (ANS)

May 26, 2002 - The family of a Christian pastor was attacked and beaten up by a gang of 10-12 Hindus in Jharkhand.

April 2002 - A Christian pastor in Orissa State is being taken to court for allegedly producing forced conversions. Rev. Niranjan Bardham is being accused by a Hindu fundamentalist group, which claims he gives food and education to poor children to lure them into the Christian faith. Twenty-two children benefiting from Bardham's ministry have become Christians in R. Sitapur and Katalakaitha villages. (Compass Direct)

April 22, 2002 - Indian Christians claim the VHP is conducting re-conversion ceremonies in West Bengal and forcing Christians to abandon their faith to re-embrace Hinduism. At least 16 tribal Christians were forced to participate in a Hindu purification ceremony in Chopra village. Over the past month an estimated 300 people have been affected by the re-conversion campaign. (Compass)

April 14, 2002 - The New Life Fellowship Church in Moodabidari, Karnataka was attacked by about 60 armed Hindu militants. The church was attacked because some Hindu young people in the area were attracted to Christianity. (Compass)

March 26, 2002 - A Christian man was beaten up by an anti-Christian mob in Badaga village. Brother Raman died on Easter morning as a result of the injuries incurred during this beating. (India Mail)

February 17, 2002 - A Catholic church near the city of Mysore was attacked by a group of Hindu militants wearing saffron bandanas. Several people were injured by the armed group, which shouted slogans blaming the church for coercing people to accept Christianity. Four of those attacked were admitted to a local hospital for treatment. (India News)

February 8, 2002 - A group of Christians gathering at a new convert's home in Nagpur, Maharashtra state were attacked by a mob of over 500 people, who threw stones at the Christians and threatened to burn them alive. The local police chief refused to help the Christians but instead warned them to quit their evangelistic activities. The church is being targeted by Hindu fundamentalists because of its bold outreach and the number of Hindus converting to the Christian faith through their ministry. (Compass)

October, 2001 – The government is threatening to confiscate various church estates in the state of Bihar, northern India. Already, the government attempted to take 75 acres of Gaya Mission School land. Christians in the city of Patna said that a "well planned conspiracy by communal forces to eliminate Christianity from Bihar" was heavily in process. (Compass)

September 18, 2001 – Hindu fundamentalists attacked Bharathari village, in the Gujarat state, injuring a Methodist pastor and four others. (Compass)

September 11, 2001 – 113 Christians were forced to denounce Christ and yield to Hinduism by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), in Orissa state. (Compass)

September 11, 2001 – Christian pamphlets were burned by the student wing of the Bharatiya Janatha Party (BJP). (Compass)

August 27, 2001 – A pastor and his congregation were attacked by Hindu activists in the village of Badadra, in Alirajpur Taluka, Madhya Pradesh. (Compass)

August 27, 2001 – A chapel was razed by pro-Hindu tribals in Mehndikheda, in the Jhabua district of Madhya Pradesh. (Compass)

August 25, 2001 – Three Catholic nuns were beaten with sticks and cudgels by Hindu fundamentalists in the Dahou town of Gujarat state. (Compass)

August 21, 2001 – Catholic church leaders met with chiefs of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS), the Hindu fundamentalists, in response to a recent rumor of falsely reported "forcible conversions" by Christians, and attacks of Hindu fundamentalists on Christians. RSS denied the attacks, and promised a thorough probe into the matter. (Compass)

August 15, 2001 – India's Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee told a gathering, "There is a conversion motive behind the welfare activities being carried out by some Christian missionaries in the country's backward areas and it is not proper, though conversion is permissible under the law." Vajpayee's comments seemed to have spurred a rage of violence against Christians, especially in the last 10 days of August. (Compass)

August 13, 2001 – A nun and missionary were attacked by Hindu fundamentalists in Pipalwada village, in south Gujarat. (Compass)

July 2001 – It is reported that members of India's Dalit (untouchable) class are planning to convert en masse to other religions, including Buddhism and Christianity. Tired of social subjugation, these low caste Hindus are seeking liberation in other religious traditions. This move could lead to violence as the militant Bajrang Dal has been recruiting and training a large number of youths in recent months.

June 2001 – Around 60 families from a certain district of Orissa State were forced to flee their homes after repeated threats against their lives and property from extremist elements.

May 15, 2001 – Members of an insurgent group known as the People's Liberation Army, shot and killed three priests in Ngarian, Manipur state. Pali Akara Raphael, Andreas Kindo and Shinu Joseph Valliparampil were shot at after they refused to give protection money to the insurgents. The same group has demanded that Catholic schools across the state pay them "taxes" or risk being bombed.

May 8, 2001 – Two bombs exploded inside a Roman Catholic Church in Muzaffarpur, Bihar state. A note found at the scene said "Stop conversion under pretext of social service. India is a Hindu nation. Christians leave India." A Muslim religious school was also burned on the same day.

April 28, 2001 – Ten men were sentenced to life in prison after being found guilty of gang raping four nuns in 1998. This decision is significant for Christians because Hindus are seldom punished for crimes against Christians and other religious minorities.

March 26, 2001 -- Two members of the Indian Evangelical Team were beaten by a group of radical Hindus while traveling in Orissa. Pastor Paul Joseph and Pastor Urio Bhatra had been visiting with believers in Chandahandee village. They left the meeting on a motorbike and were then attacked by the Hindus who beat them and badly damaged the motorbike. Both pastors were knocked unconscious. They are now recovering from their injuries.

February 2001 – Christian aid workers in Gujarat reported that Hindus have been hindering their efforts to help victims of the earthquake in Ahmedabad. A Catholic priest, Father Cedric Prakash, said he was chased away by people with sticks and told to "get out." Apparently the RSS is trying to dominate the relief efforts. Gujarat has had the most incidences of persecution against Christians in the country.

January 4, 2001 -- Two priests were beaten in Jaher Village, Gujarat. David Masih and Simon Sakria were attending a prayer meeting when 40 to 50 armed men stormed the meeting, beating the priests and then abducting them. David Masih was later hospitalized. Simon Sakria remains missing.

November 27, 2000 – At Piplipura church a 64-year-old priest was attacked by a mob wielding iron rods and sticks. Father C. Alphonse is currently hospitalized due to injuries sustained in the attack.

Novermber 26, 2000 – 200 gun-toting members of the RSS and VHP forcibly entered the Evangelical Church of India in Chindia, Gujarat. The group destroyed the church's cross and placed Hindu idols in the sanctuary, apparently in an attempt to take control of the church. The land for the church had been donated by local people about 4 years ago. VHP representatives argue that one of the local people is no longer happy with this decision; therefore the church should be turned into a Hindu temple. The case is scheduled to appear in court.

November 26, 2000 – St. Mary's convent in the Jwalapur district of Uttar Pradesh was attacked by armed Hindu extremists. In a separate incident Christian evangelists were stoned by Hindus in Kolar, Karnataka.

November 5, 2000 – Seven members of the Friends Missionary Prayer Band were thrashed by villagers at Raigad, Vyara Taluk, in Gujarat.

October 13-15, 2000 – At the 75th Anniversary celebration of the RSS, leaders warned the nearly 75,000 people gathered there about the threat of Christianity, a religion they described as foreign-dominated and funded. Christians and Muslims were criticized for abandoning their Hindu heritage and standing in the way of Hinduvta, the creation of a Hindu state.

September 12, 2000 – A Christian preacher was beheaded in Karimnagar. Unidentified assailants struck Mr.Yesu Dasu in the neck with an axe several times before he died.

September 1, 2000 – A missionary school is Uttar Pradesh was robbed. The robbers also attempted to attack the home of the school's principal.

August 28, 2000 -- Two missionaries were kidnapped from their home by fanatical RSS members. The husband and wife were taken to an undisclosed location where they were told to denounce Christianity and become propagators of the Hindu faith. When they refused, the husband was beaten unconscious. Even after being offered a substantial amount of money to recant her faith, the wife still refused and was also beaten. The couple's unconscious bodies were found the next day in a forest and taken to a hospital for medical care.

July 30, 2000 – Three men attempted to kidnap Sister Celine John in New Delhi. The men covered her face with a sheet and forced her into their van. The nun was able to escape when the van stopped briefly to pick up an accomplice.

July 25, 2000 – Catholic priest Father Victor Crasta, and three missionaries were killed when a militant group opened fire on them in Balucherra, north Tripura district.

July 14, 2000 – A Catholic priest was murdered after being robbed.

July 7, 2000 – Bajrang Dal activists attacked a priest and a nun who were distributing bags of wheat to drought affected areas. The Dal accused the Catholics of trying to lure Hindus to Christianity by giving them food. When the missionaries refused to stop the distribution of wheat, they were attacked and 144 bags of wheat were looted.

June 15, 2000 – A priest was beaten for his role in religious conversions. The incident occurred in Vishrampuri in Jagdalpur district where the priest had his head shaved and was paraded through the village by the gang of youths who attacked him.

June 12, 2000 – Construction workers found the body of evangelist Ashish Prabash in his rented house in Punjab State. The body had multiple stab wounds. Mr. Asish worked for Campus Crusade for Christ; his main ministry was showing the JESUS film.

(For more info, please see http://www.persecution.org/Countries/india.html)

Anti-conversion laws have been passed in the Indian state of Gujarat and others, and the militant VHP party and other nationalist organizations are conducting workshops and taking surveys to prevent Indians from converting to Christianity.

The Pope spoke out against the anti-conversion laws that outlaw forced conversions-though it seems that militant groups believe any conversion must be forced. According to an Indian newspaper the Pope encouraged the bishops to "courageously" proclaim the Gospel, reported The Hindu, India's national newspaper.

"This is not an easy task, especially in areas where people experience animosity, discrimination and even violence because of their religious convictions or tribal affiliation," the pontiff, who met a group of Indian bishops, said.

"These difficulties are exacerbated by the increased activity of a few Hindu fundamentalist groups which are creating suspicion of the Church and other religions," John Paul said.

"Unfortunately, in some regions the state authorities have yielded to the pressures of these extremists and have passed unjust conversion laws, prohibiting free exercise of the natural right to religious freedom, or withdrawing state support for those in the scheduled castes who have chosen to Christianity," the pontiff said.

John Paul told the Indian churchman that despite "the grave difficulties and suffering" caused by the crackdown, the Church in India must continue with evangelisation. [sic]
The work of evangelization in India is continuing, though Christians are continually persecuted for their faith. Earlier in June, 2003, a church was vandalized by a mob, accusing the church of forcing locals to convert. The mob broke a cross in the church and placed an idol inside of it.

Though locals say they were not forced to convert, villagers still claimed the conversions were forced. "They made speeches against Hindus. We will not tolerate anything like that. It's the decision of the entire village," said one villager.

Persecution is not limited to physical violence. Many Christians are not allowed to buy food. "I went everywhere. I did not find peace. No one listened to me. My child was not happy. We had nothing to eat," said one villager. And converts are not allowed to buy food without signing a declaration of re-conversion to Hinduism, said Catholic Bishop Ignatius Menezes of the diocese of Ajmer-Jaipur. Christians are now afraid the attacks will continue and are living in fear.

The VHP is stepping up efforts to oppose conversions. "VHP international general secretary Praveen Togadiya said here on Sunday that Hindus will be in minority unless conversion to Christianity or Islam are stopped," reported an Indian newspaper, though Christians make up about two percent of the population of the country. Christian evangelization efforts have brought fruit in India, but that is why the VHP is working hard to stop conversions. "The population of Hindus is going down in the country, while that of Christians and Muslims are increasing," reported Ahmedabad.com.


Dinesh Patel, do you want some more info?


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