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INDIA: 'I WILL NOT DENY CHRIST ...'
Death in Jharkhand; elections in Uttar Pradesh
by Elizabeth Kendal
According to the Hindu nationalist ideology of Hindutva, India is Hindustan, the land of the Hindus. Hindutva deems all non-Hindus are either corrupted or victims of forced conversion and insists they 'return' to the 'Hindu mainstream' for the sake of Mother India. In truth, Hindutva is pure politics! Once a means of arousing opposition to British colonial rule, it is now a means of drag-netting the majority Hindu vote to perpetuate the power, prosperity and privilege of the high-caste Hindu elite. To rally the Hindu majority, Hindutva groups such as the RSS (a paramilitary organisation founded in 1925) and the VHP (a cultural organisation founded in 1964) whip up communal hatred. Motivated by self-interest, the police and the ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP, founded in 1980) of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, guarantee impunity.
bashed almost to death
in Karnataka on 25 Jan.
The Evangelical Fellowship of India's 'Persecution Watch' report for January 2017 details 18 verified incidents of targeted persecution involving physical violence, attacks on church properties, arrests for alleged 'forceful conversions' and intensive harassment and intimidation with serious consequences.
One case in northern tribal-belt, BJP-ruled Jharkhand, resulted in a fatality. Ten years ago, ten tribal families in Kubuaa village, Palamu District, Jharkhand, left their traditional animist religion and converted to Christianity. In recent years, however, the persecution has been so severe that seven of the families have returned to the local Sarna Dharam religion. One family standing firm in faith is the family of Bartu Urawn.
In January, villagers tried to torture Bartu Urawn, the family head, into renouncing Christ. They bound Bartu's and his wife's hands behind their backs and put them in a frigid pond with their heads only just above water. All through the wintery night they taunted Bartu to renounce Christ. According to their son, Beneswar, who witnessed the assault, his father reiterated every time, 'I will not deny Christ ... I will continue to believe till my last breath.' Pulled from the water at 10am the next day, the couple subsequently fell seriously ill. While his wife recovered, Bartu developed paralysis brought on by nerve damage caused by the freezing water and died on 20 January, aged 50. At that point, the villagers turned their attention to Beneswar, and the family fled. On 3 February the police -- who had refused even to register the family's complaint -- got the family and the villagers together and made them sign a 'peace agreement'. Whilst the Urawn family has returned home, they are living in fear of their lives.
|click on map to enlarge|
PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY FOR:
* all the traumatised believers in Kubuaa village, in particular the grieving family of Christian martyr Bartu Urawn (50); may God our Heavenly Father provide comfort, peace and security. (From Isaiah 40:10-11 -- 'He will tend his flock like a shepherd ...')
* India's vulnerable, imperilled Church; may the Holy Spirit embolden the Church to reject the racism of caste and stand as one Body in Christian solidarity while loving her enemies and praying for those who persecute her. (Matthew 5:43-48)
* God to intervene in Uttar Pradesh for the benefit of his vulnerable and imperilled people, and indeed for the sake of all the 'harassed and helpless' citizens of UP. (Matthew 9:35-38)
* the Lord will raise up across India courageous men and women of reason and integrity who will lift up their voices against the racism and inequity of caste, the ideology and violence of Hindutva and the divisive and destructive nature of identity politics.
SUMMARY FOR BULLETINS UNABLE TO RUN THE WHOLE ARTICLE
INDIA: DEATH IN JHARKHAND; ELECTIONS IN UTTAR PRADESH
On 20 January Bartu Urawn (50) a believer for 10 years and head of a believing family in BJP-ruled Jharkhand, died as a martyr for Jesus Christ. Hoping to force him to deny Christ, villagers tortured Bartu and his wife. Each time they taunted him, Bartu responded, 'I will not deny Christ ... I will continue to believe till my last breath.' The police refused to register the family's complaint, and instead forced them to sign a 'peace agreement'. The Christian villagers are living in fear of their lives. Meanwhile, elections are under way in neighbouring Uttar Pradesh. Buoyed by the 2014 General Election result, Hindu nationalists have been campaigning hard. Persecution has escalated and will get worse if the BJP is victorious. Please pray for India and its Church.
Elizabeth Kendal is international religious liberty analyst and advocate. She serves as Director of Advocacy at Canberra-based Christian Faith and Freedom (CFF), and is an Adjunct Research Fellow at the Arthur Jeffery Centre for the Study of Islam at Melbourne School of Theology.
She has authored two books: Turn Back the Battle: Isaiah Speaks to Christians Today (Deror Books, Melbourne, Australia, Dec 2012) which offers a Biblical response to persecution and existential threat; and, After Saturday Comes Sunday: Understanding the Christian Crisis in the Middle East (Wipf and Stock, Eugene, OR, USA, June 2016).