One of the worst aspects of the persecution of Christians in all too many countries is that the authorities sympathize not with the victims, but with the attackers, and offer no aid to those who are victimized. The pain and horror of the persecution is amplified by the indifference and sometimes even scorn of law enforcement and government officials. May the Lord Jesus Christ strengthen these embattled Christians of India and give them the strength to persevere in all the sufferings they are made to endure, not only from hostile non-Christians, but from police officers such as those whose actions are described in this article.
“Police Attack, Threaten Christians in Tamil Nadu State, India,” Morning Star News, October 27, 2018:
HYDERABAD, India (Morning Star News) – Police officers rushed into a praise service at a house in Tamil Nadu state and began hitting worshippers in another violent month for Christians, sources said.
A female police inspector identified only as Jeyalakshmi and five police officers on Oct. 6 entered the house where Christians were spending the evening in praise and worship in Aralvaimozhi, Kanyakumari District, the pastor said.
“Inspector Jeyalakshmi and five policemen rushed inside the house church and started abusing me in filthy language,” Pastor P. Yesudas told Morning Star News. “My wife and the believers asked her, ‘What is our fault? Why are you abusing us?’ But she came after them, and the constables who were accompanying her also started punching with their fists.”
Jeyalakshmi held Pastor Yesudas by the neck and struck him in his stomach and back, he said.
“My wife and the believers tried to protect me, but they were also injured,” he said. “We did not know what to do and tried to phone call pastors from neighboring areas.”
Pastor Satyaseelan, who goes by a single name, told Morning Star News he hurried over to Aralvaimozhi from Anjugramam in 10 minutes after receiving a call from Pastor Yesudas.
“Pastor and his wife were injured and howling in pain,” Pastor Satyaseelan said. “Chairs and Bibles could be seen thrown aside. One of the constables was manhandling the believers while Jeyalakshmi continued abusing in foul language. I can’t repeat those words. She was raging in anger.”
Satyaseelan and other Christians submitted a petition to the district’s superintendent of police and the district collector with the help of senior pastors, but no action has been taken against Jeyalakshmi and her subordinates, he said.
Police officials in Kanyakumari are under the control of a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader elected as the member of Parliament from the district, said a local source who requested anonymity.
“Inspector Jeyalakshmi is close associate to local RSS leaders,” the source said, referring to the Hindu extremist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.
Jeyalakshmi was unavailable for comment.
Another pastor in Kanyakumari District reported that police tried to arrest him the third week of October on baseless charges.
“All of a sudden, on the road, they surrounded me and asked me to go to the police station with them,” Pastor C.J. Zeba told Morning Star News. “I screamed for help, and my friends who are also pastors and an audible distance away came running, and the police went away.”
On Oct. 21, he added, police warned a local pastor leading worship in a house church that he must stop all Christian activities within 10 days, or else he would be arrested.
“It is very disturbing that police are misusing their power,” Pastor Zeba said.
There is a high level of police complicity in Tamil Nadu, Pastor Nehemiah Christie, director of legislations and regulations of the Synod of Pentecostal Churches and Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF)-India’s Tamil Nadu state coordinator, told Morning Star News.
“The police are not worried at all to protect the fundamental rights and ensure the safety of citizens, instead they are openly going after Christians, disrupting their private prayers. It is all happening under the supervision of RSS and BJP supporters in the local government,” he said.
ADF-India is actively engaging with the local Christians and Christian leaders in Tamil Nadu state to raise awareness, help them know what to do when their basic rights are denied and ensure that doors for the gospel are open, Christie said.
ADF, which undertakes legal advocacy for religious freedom, notes in its campaign celebrating the 70th anniversary of the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights that it is sadly ironic that Christians are persecuted in India, a country with a long tradition and legal framework of freedom of religion.
Article 18 of the U.N. declaration asserts that believers have the freedom to practice their faith “in teaching, practice, worship and observance,” ADF notes in its campaign to obtain signatures supporting the Geneva Statement on Human Rights at www.ImHumanRight.org.
Police Disrupt Service
In Chennai, capital of Tamil Nadu, police on Oct. 7 disrupted a Sunday worship service alleging that they received complaints against the congregation.
“Police suddenly entered the shack we had built for temporary use to gather for prayers on the site of our church building which is under construction at present,” Pastor John Immanuel of Believers Prayer Fellowship told Morning Star News. “They told us that neighbors are disturbed by our singing and praying. I told them that the noise levels are always under control, and that we have been worshipping for the past two years, and the neighbors never raised any such issues.”
Police summoned Pastor Immanuel and the complainant, Uma Mageshwari, to the Koyambedu police station two days later, on Oct. 9.
“Uma Mageshwari is a neighbor who has close links with RSS,” Pastor Immanuel told Morning Star News. “About a week before police came, RSS activists had put up a pole in the church premises and attached a saffron flag to it. They refused to remove it, and we informed the police. They [RSS activists] kept watch of our coming and going every day. They still do.”
Koyambedu police ordered Mageshwari and her aides to remove the flag immediately, but they protested. They removed it only after police threatened to file charges against them, the pastor said.
“We are trying hard to complete the construction so that at least we can gather inside the building, and not in an open shack,” Pastor Immanuel said….