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Despite the optimism of the spring, believers in India are sobered by rising persecution.

By March 4, 2005

India (MNN)–The 2004 US State Department report on human rights, while crediting the Indian government for generally respecting the human rights of its citizens, shows a list of commonly occuring infringements.

That’s especially true for minority Christians. Escalating violence against believers in the last couple weeks killed two, and injured another.

Violence has recently escalated dramatically in the north-eastern state of Orissa. On February 7, Param Sagar was returning from a regular ministry trip in the Pathalperia area. He was attacked and seriously injured. Through a sister mission, the Voice of the Martyrs-Canada provided funds to assist with his hospital bills. Hindu militants had threatened to kill Param several times in the past because of his ongoing ministry.

On February 15, Pastor S. Gilbort Raj was traveling on a motorcycle with two children, returning from taking the children to school board examinations. A Hindu friend invited him in for coffee, and once alone, murdered him. Police are still searching for the suspect.

Eleven days later, a third Christian leader, Pastor Dilip Dalai, of the Orissa Follow-up community was stabbed to death at his home in Begunia village, Khurda district. A fellow church leader believes the killing may have been aimed at putting an end to the spread of the Gospel.

Voice of the Martyrs-Canada’s Glenn Penner attributes a Hindu nationalist grassroots effort for the increase in harassment. It’s sobering, considering the optimism born out of the elections last year. “We had real hopes with the election of the Congress Party in the spring that we would see a shift away from persecution which we had seen so much in the last five years when the BJP was elected to power.”

But, Penner doesn’t think that the persecution will slow down evangelism at all. In fact, the church is growing very rapidly in India. That’s both good news and bad news. “Some denominations are claiming to plant a new church every day. I don’t think you’re going to see a slow down in evangelism, but I think what you will have is increasing incidents of persecution, and you’re going to have more states that try to enforce or institute anti-conversion legislation.”

Pray for the continued ministry of the Gospel in Orissa, despite the opposition being leveled at the Church. Also remember those families who have lost loved ones in the service of Christ.

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