There has been growing intolerance and open hostility towards Christians beginning since the beginning of September in India.
In the eastern Indian state of Bihar, increasing incidents of intimidation and harassment of ordinary Christians and pastors from the evangelical denominations are being reported.
On September 15, a fifteen-year-old Christian boy died of severe injuries from being doused with corrosive liquid that sloughed the skin off his body after a month-long agonizing stay in a hospital in Patna, the capital of Bihar.
The boy's family, who embraced Christianity two years ago, were repeatedly warned by Hindu hardliners to return to the fold or face the consequences. The incident took place in a village in Gaya District.
On September 29, a Christian rights group called Body of Christ circulated a video appeal from a pastor named Raj Masih from the Buxar District, receiving threatening phone calls. In his video message, the pastor says that he was beaten by a group of men and has been warned to stop holding prayer services and to quit the village.
"I am constantly receiving abusive calls and vulgar messages on my phone. I do not know who shared my number. Powerful people are also threatening the believers, and there is no one to turn to. I feel helpless and alone. Pray for me!" he appeals in the video.
Last week, four Christian families were kicked out of their own houses in the Kandhamal district of Odisha State on the east coast of India.
Their houses were demolished, and they were not allowed to access common public resources, such as the village well. Because of this hostile environment, two families fled to the forest. The other two shifted to a nearby village with their relatives. They were members of Jesus Calls Prayer Tower, a Pentecostal group.
Even though the affected people belonged to the Pentecostal denomination, the legal team of the Catholic Archdiocese of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar, led by Fr. Dibyasingh Parichha is now helping them to file a complaint at the local police station.
Commenting on this brutal behaviour, Archbishop John Barwa of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar called it "A discriminatory, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment."
Condemning the incident, the archbishop said, "After all the efforts that have been made here to restore peace, it is painful and shameful that nothing can stop the aggression and threat against Christians. What can be said of people who deny their fellow citizens even drinking water? This inhuman behavior must be stopped immediately, and those involved in these cruel actions must be firmly sanctioned according to the law. These episodes create insecurity and fear among people who are stigmatized and threatened only for their faith in Jesus."
Meanwhile, the South Indian of Karnataka, ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party, is planning an 'Anti-Conversion Bill.'
- Frank Krishner, RVA News