On October 7, a group of religious fanatics including members of the same village, attacked more than 7 Christian homes in a village Hirma under Jharsuguda district in Odisha State of India. Christian families were dragged out of their houses and were beaten up by these fanatics, without even sparing the Women and Children.
They want to force more than 30 Christian families to do Ghar Wapsi (turning back to original faith). These fanatics want now to force them to go back to Hinduism. While these fanatics accuse Christians of forced conversions, they seem to be oblivious that they are the ones who are forcing them to take back an old belief.
“We have more than 30 Christian families in the village Hirma and the fanatics are harrassing every family” reported the Local Pastor Samal Lugun from Jewan Marg.
“Their demands are that we should forsake Christ and leave the Christian faith otherwise we will keep on harrassing you to a point where you will have no option except leaving the village. You will only be allowed to live here if you forsake Christ” added Pastor Samal.
Sunil Munda, one of the believers who were dragged out of the house and beaten along with his sisters Juspin Kisan and Masicharan Gudiya bravely declared 4 points:
1. All our christian brothers don’t want to be reconverted to Hinduism.
2. As the Lockdown is no more, we want to Worship Jesus Christ without any hinderance.
3. Few marriages are to be held and we don’t want any disturbances from the fanatics.
4. We need proper permission and assurance from the local authorities to conduct our worship services in the days ahead. It is our fundamental constitution rights.
Since January 2016 to September 2020, Persecution Relief has recorded 2224 cases of Christian Persecution in India.
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 founder of Persecution Relief www.persecutionrelief.org