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Posted in: Christian Persecution - Asia

By BosNewsLife News Center

NEW DELHI, INDIA (BosNewsLife) — Two Christian believers in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh were recovering from their injuries Sunday, October 29, after angry villagers and militants were beating them for their refusal to return to Hinduism, their previous religion.

Santu Prasad Barmaia and Kunjan Prasad Barmaia, both farmers and members of a Gospel for Asia church in Paralia village in the state’s Shahdol were reportedly attacked by 12 villagers on October 19.

Local Christians said the violence took place in the morning, when the two were on their way to their fields. "Police have not arrested the culprits, in spite of the fact that the victims named them in a complaint filed at the Amarkantak police station," Compass Direct News agency quoted a local source as saying on condition of anonymity

Police officials could not be reached for comment. The reported attack is the latest in a serious of incidents against Christians across India that have raised concerns among missionary workers, church leaders and rights groups, BosNewsLife established.

Especially impoverished Christians in more rural areas of India are impacted by the violence. The Christians in Paralia were apparently refusing to participate in Hindu rituals since they accepted Jesus Christ as their “personal Lord and Savior” four years ago, a key component of evangelical Christianity.

HINDU PRESSURE

Hindu villagers have been pressuring the Christians to "reconvert" to Hinduism, locals said. This year villagers allegedly refused to allow the two men, the only Christians in the village, to take water from the hamlet’s common well, forcing the believers to dug their own well.

These are no isolated incidents. In nearby Bhargat village in Madhya Pradesh’s Seoni district, Pastor Haroon Jonathan is in jail after police officials failed to fulfill a promise to release him on bail, news reports said.

Jonathan faced charges of "hurting religious sentiments" and "forced conversion" after he was attacked by Hindu militants in September.

Still recovering from his injuries, he turned himself in to police on October 15 after officers promised that he would be bailed out the following day, Compass Direct News agency said. However submission of formal charges is a condition for obtaining bail, something police so far apparently failed to do.

FAMILY DETAINED

Jonathan and several other Christian family members were arrested September 10 after some 70 Hindu militants allegedly belonging to the radical Hindu group Jagran Dharma Seva or 'Service to Awaken Faith' burst into the house church and attacked the congregation.

They dragged Jonathan and his wife Anita out of the house, along with in-laws, Indian Christians said. The four were reportedly detained on charges of "hurting religious sentiments, promoting religious animosity and forced conversion" under the state’s controversial anti-conversion law.

Police claimed to have a tape recording of Jonathan urging people to get rid of any idols or pictures of Hindu deities. The Christians were released on bail, but two more cases were filed against Jonathan, and he was declared as “absconding.”

On October 18, about 600 local Christians held a rally in Seoni district to protest the increasing attacks in Madhya Pradesh. Jonathan was supposed to have been one of the leaders of the rally. (With reports from India).

Copyright 2006 BosNewsLife. All rights reserved.
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