India: Christians wait for authorities to investigate policeman who burned down church building

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by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent

(Worthy News) – Christians in India’s Chhattisgarh state are waiting expectantly for authorities to take action against a Hindu police officer who they believe burned down their church building earlier this year because he did not like their worship services, Morning Star News (MSN) reports. As persecution against Christians by Hindu extremists continues to intensify, believers report that obtaining justice is difficult because police officers are being radicalized by Hinduist hardliners.

On February 3, a house church service in Kistaram village was disrupted by
Konta District Sub-Inspector Bhavesh Shende, who demanded the congregation stop worshiping, MSN reports.

“Shende said that he does not like our prayers, and that we should stop praying with immediate effect, and if we do not obey, he will book us all under a false case of being Naxalites (communist rebels),” believers Gurva and Turram Kanna said in a written complaint to the Chhattisgarh Christian Forum (CCF).

When the believers declined to obey, Shende returned on February 4 and this time ordered them to burn down their church building which is set on land belonging to one of the congregation.

“We refused to burn the church,” the Kannas state in their complaint. “And when we refused to do anything of that sort, he abused us in filthy language and threatened to kill us. He said that he will falsely book us under the Naxalite Act and send us to jail.”

The church building was burned down the next day, MSN said. The believers are sure the arson was committed upon orders by Shende, and they have filed a complaint against him with the Kisatram police.

Since then, the Chhattisgarh Christian Forum has been working to get authorities to investigate and deal with the complaint. After many requests and appeals for action by the CCF, it appears the police have finally begun to obtain witness statements.

“Government is hand-in-glove with the perpetrators of violence,” CCF President Arun Pannalal said. “The police in Chhattisgarh have also been saffronized [color symbolic of Hindu nationalism]. Because the government is not taking proper action, they [perpetrators] are encouraged to persecute the Christians.”

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