A group of Christians were brutally attacked by a gang of raging religious goons at midnight on the 21st of July 2020. This attack took place in the Indian state of Odisha in a village named Badaguda which features in the district of Koraput.
Speaking to Persecution Relief, Pr. Ayuba Khora, the local Pastor said, “The goons broke into the home of 75-year-old Chachiri Muduli, who was housing around 7 odd Christians after their homes had been broken down earlier this year by the same fanatics. The goons not only mercilessly beat the Christians up but also destroyed the house.”
He further added, “8 Christians in all were admitted to the local government hospital with severe injuries, of which the elderly Chachiri had the worst wounds.”
Pr. Ayuba told Persecution Relief that he had been running a house church at the Badaguda village for the past 2 years. Around 40 Christians used to gather to pray every Friday. Since then, the villagers have been harassing and beating up the believers saying, “When you pray, our gods leave us, so you have to stop praying here or you must leave this village.”
Pr. Sudhakar Khosla, one of the Odisha state coordinators for Persecution Relief soon got in touch with Pr. Ayuba regarding the attack. “On the 26th of March 2020, the fanatics burnt down and destroyed a small cottage that we had built for the Church to meet in.”
Pr. Ayuba further told us that the fanatics had vandalized and broken down the homes of other believers in the village too, which is why the believers had taken shelter at ChachiriMuduli’s home. “Around 8 families in all are being persecuted for their faith in this village” he said.
Pr. Sudhakar also got an opportunity to speak with the persecuted Christians regarding their ordeal. “The villagers told us that our Christian faith has disturbed the village” said Sumitra, a young Christian girl who was also beaten up along with her father, Shiba Muduli, two other sisters, Sabi and Radhika and her brother-Sunam.
“Some of these villagers are very angry with us because we worship Jesus Christ and are trying to make us forsake Christianity” said Sunam Muduli, who is currently recuperating from his injuries.
Pr. Ayuba explained to Persecution Relief that in the past two years, the fanatics have quarreled with, beaten up and broken-down homes of believers many times. The homes of Christian brothers, Patulu naik and Purshan Naik were completely destroyed a few weeks ago. The believers approached the village headman for help numerous times but nothing was done about it.
“We then approached the Tehsildar and requested him to intervene on our behalf. Sadly, we were turned away with comforting words and no help” narrated Pr. Ayuba. He further stated that the attacks against the believers intensified to such an extent that all of them began living together as their homes and possessions were taken over by the goons.
“3 times Pr. Ayuba and the believers lodged a FIR at the local police station against the accused, but the police did nothing and did not arrest them” said Pr. Sudhakar. He added that the fourth FIR was filed on the 22nd of July 2020.
Pr. Sudhakar Khosla told Persecution Relief that after much pressure from The Koraput Pastor’s Association and the local Christians, the Police arrested a few of the accused on the 23rd of July 2020. “But there is a big possibility of the accused being released without bail” he exclaimed.
Speaking to the President of the Koraput Pastor’s Association, he said, “Since the 20th of March 2020, I have come to this village at least 6 times to sort out the issues. On every occasion, the fanatics come to a compromise but soon begin to harass the believers again.”
Since January 2020, Persecution Relief recorded a total of 18 cases of Christian Persecution in the state of Odisha and reported 6 murders in the same state since 2015. 293 cases of Christian persecution were recorded by Persecution Relief in the first half of 2020. From January 2016 to June 2020, Persecution Relief has recorded 2067 cases of Hate crimes against Christians in India
The US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has downgraded India to the lowest ranking, ‘Countries of Particular Concern’(CPC) In its 2020 report. The US State Department 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 is the founder of Persecution Relief