By BosNewsLife News Center
NEW DELHI, INDIA (BosNewsLife) — Active Christians in rural areas of India, including pastors and evangelists, faced another potentially dangerous day Monday, June 11, after reports that two Christian workers were killed by suspected militants in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh while elsewhere Hindu extremists threatened to burn alive church leaders.
The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), a major advocacy representing churches and mission groups across the country, said 86-year-old Samuel Masih and his staff member Aman Singh, 43, "were brutally killed" last week in the village of Awagarh in Uttar Pradesh.
GCIC investigators said Aman Singhâ€™s body "had 24 stab wounds while Mr. Masih had been stabbed five times" during the attack in the night of June 2. The missionaries founded a local school aimed at "rural children" in the troubled state. It was not immediately clear who was responsible for the attack, but investigators said "religion" may have been a motive.
News of their deaths came amid reports of violence in other areas of India, including in a suburb of Bangalore city, the capital of the Indian state of Karnataka, where Hindu militants threatened to burn alive a house church pastor over the weekend, GCIC said.
Pastor Lakshmi Narayan Gowda was reportedly holed up at his house church in Hesraghatta Jalahalli Friday, June 8, by about 150 followers of the 'Sangh Parivar' ('Family of Associations'), an umbrella organization of Hindu groups.
Police and GCIC representatives managed to "safe the life of the pastor" but part of his home was burned by a crowd carrying kerosene cans, GCIC said. The incident came after human rights watchers confirmed that Catholic Priest Pal Ninama had a similar experience in the state of Madhya Pradesh where he oversaw the construction of a new Catholic school.
"Disgruntled Hindu villagers, who could not get admission to the Catholic school made accusations that the Catholic priest was promoting conversions to Christianity through the school," GCIC said. On May 12 he was allegedly ordered to leave the village of Parsad in the state's Udaipur area by 15 militants who, Christians said, threatened to burn him alive.
There have been similar reports in other areas of India as part of what human rights groups have described as a campaign against Christians in the predominantly Hindu nation. In recent weeks, evangelists were reportedly attacked and stripped of their clothes, while house church Christians, including women, were attacked and detained by Hindu groups and local police in predominantly rural areas, BosNewsLife monitored.
Among them is evangelical pastor Shri Debendra Hial, who human rights watchers claim was jailed in 2005 for eight years on "false charges" of raping a woman after a lengthy legal battle that began in 1996.
The woman was allegedly bribed by Hindu militants to witness against the pastor, a worker of the mission group Christian Evangelistic Assembly of Delhi. However while in prison, he has continued preaching.
"He has won around 30 souls for Jesus Christ inside the jail who are ready for baptism. Presently he is under heavy pressure in prison, being humiliated beyond measure…," GCIC said in a statement monitored by BosNewsLife. Family members of Pastor Debendra reportedly sold all their properties, cattle and even household goods to pay for the pastors' lawyers in an effort to win his release.
Radical Hindu organizations have become increasingly active to stop Christian conversions, especially in rural areas among 'dalits', who are seen as the 'lowest caste' in India's ancient system of Hinduism. Several states have imposed 'anti-conversion' laws, amid reported fears among Hindu groups that Christianity is spreading.
However Christians comprise still less than three percent of the country's over one-billion strong population. (With BosNewsLife reporting and BosNewsLife Research).
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