‘We will shoot you’, ‘Stop religious conversion’ & ‘This is a Hindu Rashtra’. These were the slogans yelled out by a mob of religious fanatics, who stood outside a Church in Rajasthan, India. This incident took place on the 11th of September 2020 at roughly 5:30 pm.
“Around 50 men stood outside our gate, creating a huge commotion and threatening us. I live above the Church hall with my family, but strongly felt that I shouldn’t go out as the situation seemed hostile” said *Pr. Sam, speaking to Persecution Relief.
The Pastor further stated, “After a while, when the chaos ceased, I figured I should visit the local Police station to inform them about what had happened. So, I got ready and stepped out. The mob had left, but a few policemen who had accompanied them were still at my gate.”
The policemen told Pr. Sam not to go anywhere as their head inspector was on his way to see him. “They told me that they had received a complaint against me, about religious conversions from someone who lives around 4 km away in another colony”
The inspector arrived shortly and spoke to Pr. Sam about the complaint. “I asked him how this allegation could be true when the church has been under lock and key ever since the nation-wide lockdown was imposed, that’s almost 7 months!” said Pr. Sam.
“Despite the government lifting restrictions, I told my church that we will still wait as many people are still falling ill and we must be responsible individuals. I, myself, have hardly ventured outside as I am very careful” the Pastor said, also mentioning that around 60 Christians belong to his Church.
The inspector told Pr. Sam not to come to the police station until and unless they call him. “The inspector told me that the Superintendent of Police (SP) might want to talk to me, hence I may be summoned only then.”
“I told the inspector that the complainant must also be called at that time. I want to know when and where I have converted anyone. Moreover, none of my Church members live in that area” said Pr. Sam who has been living in Rajasthan for many years and whose father pastored the Church before him.
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, Founder, Persecution Relief www.persecutionrelief.org