India: Christians Arrested, Attacked

Arrested: Pastors and believers in Uttar Pradesh, India, are being jailed, including mothers with their babies, reports the Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin.

Since an anti-conversion law was passed in December 2020 up to May 2023, “234 people have been arrested and jailed under the statute, none convicted,” reported Morning Star News.

Hindutva activists register false complaints against Christians of forced conversions. Some are then held in jail without bail. This abusive tactic is enough to intimidate, persecute, and terrorize Christians, but not criminalize Christianity and cause geo-political consequences.

Pastor Harendra Singh and his wife Priya were arrested during a worship service on July 30. Hindu political extremists accused the couple of trying to convince villagers to convert. Their three-year old son was incarcerated with Priya.

The same day, Pastor Amarjeet Ram and five believers were arrested during a prayer meeting. Seven other Christians were jailed in other districts.

Days earlier, nine believers were jailed after Hindu nationalists invaded their prayer meeting, threatened, and smashed church property. Later, five women who gathered to pray for the jailed believers were also accused and jailed.

Pastor Baburam and nine believers were arrested on July 9, after a complaint was filed against 19 believers.

In February, police arrested Pastor Santosh John and his wife Jiji during a prayer service. After they were released, a mob of Hindu nationalists stormed the police station and demanded the couple be arrested again. They spent a month in jail. They were released after the accusations could not be proven.

In April, Pastor Kirubendran and his wife Manju were jailed. Manju spent 13 days in jail with their 18-month-old daughter, and Pas. Kirubendran spent a month. He prayed, “Lord, whether I get bail or not, let my faith stay steadfast.”

Their church of 90 members has not met again to worship. “I must stay safe and keep a low profile,” he told Morning Star News.

“The situation has reached a stage that holding a prayer service or reading the Bible at home can land you in jail,” a Christian leader told Catholic media.

  • Pray for India’s pastors and believers to remain steadfast in their faith.
  • Pray for God’s protection for Christians to worship and serve others.

Attacked: In May of 2023, violence erupted in Manipur, India. The on-going conflict has left more than 160 people dead and over 60,000 fleeing their homes. Over 250 churches have been burned or damaged.

Most of the victims are from the Kuki tribe.

Kukis are predominately Christian, while Meitei are majority Hindu.  Meiteis are a majority of the population and live in the valley. Kukis are a minority population and mostly live in the hills. The ethnic conflict is complex and long running.

A court ruling in March triggered the violence. It recommended that the majority Meitei receive “scheduled tribal status”.

This would entitle them to benefits and quotas in government jobs and education and allow them to buy land in the area where minority Kukis have had exclusive rights.

India’s supreme court later stayed the court’s ruling and criticized the government for not acting to end the violence.

Manipur state and India’s national government are ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), a Hindu nationalist party. The government is accused of allowing mobs to act with impunity, and police of not assisting the Kukis or investigating reports of rape, torture and violence.

India’s prime minister Modi was silent on the months-long conflict until a viral video caused international outrage. The video showed two Kuki women stripped naked, paraded in the streets, molested, then allegedly gang raped by a Meitei mob.

Modi said, “what happened to the daughters of Manipur can never be forgiven” and the “entire country has been shamed” by it. He did not mention the widespread violence or deaths.

In India, discrimination against Christians has risen along with discriminatory laws.

“Local police throughout India allow Hindu extremist mobs to attack hapless Christians without consequences,” said Archbishop Joseph D’Souza of the Anglican Good Shepherd Church.

Some Christians fled Manipur, traveling four to five days to reach a safe area. They lost everything – their homes were burned or looted – and are without jobs. They have no hope of returning where it is unsafe, or resources for daily living.

They are living in camps, schools, some with friends and families.

Christian Freedom International partnered with a local team to provide aid for Manipur Christians. They distributed groceries to a group of around 120 families who took shelter in Nagaland.

“It was a great support and blessing for those people who lost everything due to communal riots in their state. They are feeling insignificant and worthless,” the team said.

“These people are overjoyed and happy to know somebody is standing by them in this critical and difficult time of their life. It was only possible by your immediate response and extended help.”

  • Pray for God’s healing and restoration for Christians and other victims in Manipur.
  • Pray for anti-conversion laws to be overturned and Christians to be free to follow Jesus.