Mob Attack: Two Christian Youth Beaten, Cross Desecrated in Jharkhand
0 comments | by Shibu Thomas
Two young Christian missionaries were abused and assaulted by a mob and taken to the police station in a village named Belgarisin Dhanbad, a district in the Indian state of Jharkhand. The attack which took place on the 22nd of June happened at the new coal mine colony in Baliapur CD Block. Speaking to Persecution Relief, Br. Arul Jothi- Founder Secretary of Youth Missionary Movement (YMM) said that a few of the migrant workers, who do not live in that area, came to the Church premises and told the Christians there to take down a cross that was erected on the building.
“The group of fanatics gathered people around, instigating them against us and then caught hold of our 2 young Christian boys who have been serving with our ministry for the past 8 years” said Br. Arul Jothi.
Br. Charles, the National Mission Coordinator (YMM), said that there are around 12000 houses in the colony and all the residents are migrants from different parts of India. They have all come to work in the coal fields. “Everybody likes these 2 youngsters” he added.
“The 2 youth, Sushant Pradhan from Odisha and Kaina Pansafrom Arunachal Pradesh. They are spirited youth who are involved in Community Development” said Br. Arul. He further praised Sushant and Kaina saying, “during the nation-wide lockdown, these boys were helping the community by providing relief hampers to the migrants who worked at Eastern Coalfield Limited (ECL).”
Br. Arul mentioned that a few people disliked the youth because of their Christian faith and work. “They were the ones to instigate the mob to beat up the boys and take them to the Baliyapur Police Station” he added. Br. Charles told Persecution Relief that the construction work of the Church was almost over. “The land on which the Church was constructed is presently taken on lease from the local Santals (An ethnic group native to India) and the building is large enough to accommodate around 30 people for prayer and worship” he said.
Br. Charles also reported that of late, cases of Christian persecution are on a rise in Jharkhand. The YMM was established in Belgaria and is now serving in other districts across Jharkhand as well, but he knows of at least 8 churches that are facing persecution in the state of Jharkhand. Br. Arul expressed great concern regarding this attack. “Last week, another Pastor was arrested. When the local believers got to know about it, they approached the Police and testified about the miracles and wonders which they encountered in their lives through the Pastor’s ministry. After much persuasion, the Police let him go. Such attacks have become common in Jharkhand” he said.
Persecution Relief was informed about the incident by Pastor Christopher David. This incident raised an alarm amongst the local Christian leaders in Jharkhand. Br. Christopher David immediately alerted Persecution Relief about the attack. Br. Jude who serves with the YMM also reached out to us as soon as he got the news. YMM’s local coordinator, Milan Kumar rushed to the Police Station to reach out to those persecuted. He spoke to Persecution Relief from the Baliyapur police station while the Police Inspector had gone to the spot to investigate and verify the incident. As always, Persecution Relief State Coordinator of Jharkhand, Finny Samuel made every effort to help the trouble subside. Persecution Relief Coordinator Rakesh Paul was also in continuous talks with the police to encourage the speedy release of the youth.
Persecution Relief contacted the SP City R. Ram Kumar, regarding the incident. He was already aware of the case and said that he is looking into the matter and would do the needful. The young men were kept at the Police Station till late that night and then sent to the government hospital for a medical examination. As this story is being written they are recovering at the hospital. Since January 2020, Persecution Relief has recorded 17 cases of Christian Persecution in Jharkhand. Interestingly, most cases were recorded during the lockdown period. Hostility against Christians has become rampant in this state and needs to be addressed at the earliest. In the 1st Quarter of 2020, we recorded 187 cases. Between 1st Quarter of 2016 to 1st Quarter of 2020, there has been a rise of 128.04 % of Hate Crimes against Christians all across the country. In 2019 alone, Persecution Relief has recorded the maximum number of 527 cases compared to 447 cases in 2018, 440 in 2017 and 330 in 2016. From January 2016 to March 2020, Persecution Relief has recorded 1961 cases of Hate crimes against Christians in India.
The US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has downgraded India to the lowest ranking, ‘Countries of Particular Concern’(CPC) In its 2020 report. ranked India’s persecution severity at “Tier 2” along with Iraq and Afghanistan. Over the past seven years, India has risen from No. 31 to No. 10 on Open Doors’ World Watch List, ranking just behind Iran in persecution severity.
Shibu Thomas is Founder of Persecution Relief