Carolers beaten; violence only growing

By January 2, 2012

India (MNN) — Recent threats and outbreaks of violence against Christians in India show persecution is on the rise. Any hope for justice in this New Year looks grim.

In Orissa, an Indian state infamous for a wave of attacks against Christians back in 2008, threats of violence were made against Christians in an effort to "stop Christmas."

2,500 protestors rallied on December 18 under the leader of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), an activist arm of the Hindu nationalist movement. The RSS leader called for a strike over Christmas weekend and into last week.

Dave Stravers with Grand Rapids, Michigan-based Mission India says the timing was intentional. “When there’s a general strike, the opportunities for violence are just multiple…it’s a time [that] these extremists use to get violent against people they don’t like, and Christians are usually the targets of that.”

Violence did breakout in Karnataka, a neighboring state just south-west of Orissa. A group of 15 Christians were meeting privately in a new believer’s house singing Christmas carols.

Outside the house, a mob of around 300 RSS members gathered and attacked the house, breaking windows, furniture, and brutalizing the Christians.

Stravers says the police came and arrested all the believers after they were beaten. The Christians were thrown in jail for a week while no action was taken against the attackers.

The leader of the house gathering, Pastor Manu Das, is still currently in intensive care with severe head injuries and internal bleeding.

“This illustrates the justice problem,” states Stravers. “Someone comes to beat you up, and then the police come and arrest you and accuse you of inciting that other person to violence!”

With such a breakdown in India’s justice system, things don’t look good for Christians this next year. But in the midst of persecution, believers in India have reported a rapid spread of the Good News.

According to Stravers, “Hostility in India has been increasing over the entire country… This is the direct result of the fast growth of the church and the great response to the Gospel in so many areas.”

Please pray for courage in Indian believers this next year and for justice to take hold in the hearts of leaders.

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