India: 18 Christians jailed after closed case is reopened

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by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent

(Worthy News) – Eighteen Christians who were falsely accused in a five-year-old closed vandalism case in India’s Chhattisgarh state were re-arrested and jailed for several days in the same case before being ordered to reappear in court on April 29, Morning Star News (MSN).

Angered that one of their own had recently become a Christian, tribal animists in Chhattisgarh state’s Bhelwapal village, Sukma District vandalized the church and home of Pastor Hidma Sodi in 2017. MSN said. The villagers then went on to smash a Hindu neighbor’s idol and accuse the pastor and 17 other local Christians of having destroyed it.

The accused believers filed a police complaint against the villagers for the vandalism to the church and Pastor Sodi’s home. Nevertheless, even knowing the Christians had been framed, the police went ahead and charged the believers with vandalizing the Hindu idol.

The matter appeared to have been resolved after the Chhattisgarh Christian Forum petitioned the state High Court in Bilaspur, which ordered a compromise that involved all charges being dropped against defendants on either side. However, following two years of COVID-19 lockdowns, the 18 Christians were suddenly summoned to appear before a magistrate on March 9 for the case to be dealt with. The court ordered the believers to be jailed until they posted bail on March 14.

“We do not know for how long the case is going to be dragged out,” Pastor Sodi told MSN. “There are a lot of finances involved in appearing for court dates besides the harassment that Christians are facing for no fault of their own, but they are standing strong knowing that they are suffering for their faith.” The next hearing is in June, the pastor said.

India ranks 10th on the US Open Doors World Watch List 2022 of the top 50 countries where Christians are persecuted.

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