“You Christian’s will never change” said *Inspector Kumar, as he lashed his belt on *Pastor Rupesh’s back. “I am fed up of trying to stop you Christians” he exclaimed. For the next couple of hours, Pr. Rupesh and a fellow believer endured the fury of the Inspector as he mercilessly beat them with a (lathi) wooden rod and his belt.
On the 29th of August 2020, Pr. Rupesh and his friend went to visit the former’s uncle who lives in a village in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. “My uncle was going through a challenging time and had invited me to come over and pray for him.” said Pr. Rupesh in conversation with Persecution Relief.
“After a time of praying, our family sat together to have some breakfast. I had just sipped on my cup of tea when we heard someone impatiently banging at our door. When my uncle answered it, we were shocked to see the Police standing outside with a group of fanatics” said Pr. Rupesh.
The Pastor told Persecution Relief that one police man came in and started questioning them about being involved in converting people to Christianity. “I told them that I had only come to visit my relatives with a friend. It was only the 7 of us, all Christians” he added.
“A crowd soon gathered and a few of the fanatics began recording videos on their phones. The police did not give me a chance to speak. I pleaded, telling them that I have never converted any one to Christianity” said Pr. Rupesh.
The Police ultimately took Pr. Rupesh and his friend *Raju to the local Police station. It was almost noon by then. “We were treated like criminals, especially by *Inspector Kumar. First, he started beating us with his lathi (wooded rod), but then he suddenly took out his belt and started whipping us” said Raju.
The Pastor further added that the inspector verbally abused them with filthy language and falsely accused them of acts they were not guilty of. “You Christians have no business in life but to convert people. I am warning you to stop this nonsense or else you will pay a huge price” the Inspector told the two Christians.
Persecution Relief sent out a prayer requests concerning the unlawful arrest of Pr. Rupesh and Raju and also advocated their release by reasoning out with the authorities. At last, both Christians were released on bail at 8pm, that very evening.
In 2019, after being instigated by the fanatics, the Police had arrested Pr. Rupesh during a Church prayer meeting, under section 153 A 295 A 505(1). These charges are frequently made to portray Christians as people who are disturbing peace and communal harmony when it is actually the complainant who should be interrogated regarding the same.
Initially, the fanatics and the police alleged that Pr. Rupesh was forcefully converting people. But once it was established that he was indeed visiting his family, the charge changed and they then booked him under section 151 of the IPC. The following is the explanation of the Central Government Act:
Whoever knowingly joins or continues in any assembly of five or more persons likely to cause a disturbance of public peace, after such assembly has been lawfully commanded to disperse, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine, or with both.
In Pr. Rupesh’s case, they did not disturb public peace by assembling indoors with their family, nor were they asked to disperse. More so, they were arrested, reprimanded and tortured. But who cares? There is no end to this commonly prevalent and intensifying corruption, particularly against the minorities.
Pray for the police and the religious fanatics. That they would soon realize the error of their ways. Pray that God would meet with them in a special way, change their hearts and lead them on a path of righteousness and justice.
In the 1st Half of 2020, Persecution Relief recorded 293 cases of Christian Persecution. In 2019 alone, we recorded the maximum number of 527 cases compared to 447 cases in 2018, 440 in 2017 and 330 in 2016. 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