The home of a Christian was mysteriously set on fire, endangering the lives of the entire family. On the fateful night of the 15th of May, *Nandu and his family woke up to the smoke and loud screams of “fire”! They had only fallen off to sleep a couple of hours ago not expecting to wake up to a nightmare. It was past 10:30 pm when they frantically rushed out only to be met with towering flames surrounding them. Their wooden gate and fence which marked a boundary around their home had been set on fire. Amidst the chaos, Nandu seen his relative *Ram jumping and screaming, trying to summon them to get water. Overwhelmed from what they were witnessing, they soon came to their senses and started quenching the fire with buckets of water. If the loud cries of Ram hadn’t to reach their ears, Nandu and his family would have passed out unconscious inside their home, resulting in an even worse scenario.
There are 5 Christian families, including Nandu’s family who live in this little village located in Jharkhand. They are part of a Church that is led by *Pastor Prabhu who lives around 25kms away from the village. As soon as he heard the sad news, Pastor Prabhu rushed to the village to pray and encourage the family. He spoke to Persecution Relief from Nandu’s home and narrated the entire incident to us. Persecution Relief had an opportunity to speak with Nandu as well who shared his struggles with us ever since he and his family decided to follow Jesus Christ.
Nandu and his family adopted Christianity 3 years ago. However, this journey has not been an easy one. “A few religious fanatics from our village have been harassing us since the day we turned to Christianity, it is only the grace of God that has sustained us.” Said Nandu.
Nandu’s mother passed away in 2017. At the time of the funeral, a few religious fanatics created trouble and refused to allow Nandu to go ahead with the burial. They told him that they would allow him to bury his mother if he would participate in a pooja and turn back to his previous beliefs. In the midst of his grief and intense threats from the fanatics, Nandu momentarily agreed.
Tragically, within a few weeks, Nandu’s father also passed away. The fanatics did not spare him this time as well. Taking advantage of Nandu’s vulnerability, the fanatics forced him to follow the rituals and beliefs of old, but somehow, they knew that Nandu was doing it only from sheer pressure and helplessness due to the loss that the family had suffered in a very short period of time.
There are 5 Christian families in this village and all are being harassed and persecuted for their faith. Over the past few months, the persecution has intensified, leading up to Nandu’s ordeal wherein their very lives were at stake.
A complaint has been registered at the local police station and investigations are underway, with no solid findings yet. The Covid-19 crisis presented the villages with a new package of struggles to overcome. Sadly, for Nandu, he has a lot more to get through than the rest of the world. Such attacks amplify the mentality of those who share no solidarity on humanitarian grounds. These goons have just one agenda in mind-to poison minds against minorities and eradicate those who in their opinion, are corrupting the race with a foreign faith.
Every human being is entitled to embrace a faith that makes complete sense to him. Exercising and propagating one’s faith is supposed to be a beautiful privilege that every Indian acquires as his birthright. Not many countries have these benefits. Unfortunately for India, even the world knows that these rights are currently trapped within the pages of the Constitution of India itself. The worlds largest democracy has now found itself on a list released by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) of the top ten countries in the world, in which religious minorities are being severely persecuted.
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.
Shibu Thomas, Founder, Persecution Relief
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