31st January 2006: The night of 30th January 2006 was replete with reports of incidents against Christians in Madhya Pradesh.
The state already infamous for attacks on the Christian minority with as many as 4 attacks on the community since 25th January 2006 experienced more of it, with unconfirmed reports indicating at least 18 instances of violence against Christians as India mourned the father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi refered to as the apostle of peace.
The first attack was in Betul in Madhya Pradesh where in Hindutva fundamentalists attacked and attempted to burn a Pentecostal Church. The Church pastored by Senior Pastor K T Samuel was broken into by miscreants. After vandalizing the Church they attempted to set the Church on fire.
The second attack took place in Banapura, District Hoshangabad. Between 12:00 – 1:00 in the night unidentified men broke in the Friend’s Church in Banapura and after vandalizing they set the Church gates on fire.
The police station of Banapura is just opposite the Church and as soon as policemen saw flames from the Church they came to the rescue thus making the attackers flee from the scene. It was the police personnel who doused the fire and protected the Church.
The Friend’s Church is a historical Church and is about 150 years old. It belonged to the UCNI and currently the CNI is the custodian of the Church. Ena Jiwan Masih, an elder of the Church has filed an FIR with the police. We spoke to Mr. David Nathaneal, one of the elders of the Church and he has expressed his concern at the attacks but was appreciative of the police action.
The third attack was again at a Friend’s Church but this time in the town on Itarsi. Unidentified people broke the Church lock and attempted to vandalize the Church, but a major mishap was averted when the miscreants ran when someone raised an alarm.
According to reports received unidnetified people attempeted to burn a Church in Mandla district too, but the police intervened at the right time and thus prevented a major mishap.