Friday, October 12, 2007

Incident report from Chhattisgarh

October 5’ 2007

October 11'2007

NAME OF THE VICTIM : Pastor Chainu Patel and Sagundas Jurri

Wife - Housewife and ministers with husband
Younger brother - Chaitu,lives with Pr Chainu and studies in class 12th
Father & Mother - lives in Kaneri village, near Kondagaon.
CHURCH : House church in Murnar is the part of the Believers Church (GFA), Kanker, Chhattisgarh. It is a growing church amidst difficult circumstances. This house church was started about 3 years back.
ORGANIZATION : Believers Church in India (GFA)
LOCATION : Murnar is a small village, about 15 kms from Kanker and Keshkal each. Murnar falls under Murven gram panchayat and under the jurisdiction of Kondagaon Sessions Court. It is situated in Bastar(Jagdalpur) district, Chhattisgarh, India.

Kanker is a small town and the district headquarter of North Bastar. Keshkal is a large village on the national highway. There has been much persecution of the Christians in last three years in Kanker town and nearby villages and in the villages near Kondagaon . Villages of Kanker and Jagdalpur districts are heavily under influence of naxalism.

Date - October 5'2007
Time - 04:00 PM
Three days fasting prayer was arranged in the house of Sagundas Jurri from October 4th to 6th. Sagundas is an unbaptised believer, who has opened his house many times for meeting of the church. There are 5 believer families in the village. There were about 20 persons including women and children, present in the meeting. Most of them were believers from non Christian background.
At about 02:00 PM on October 5th, a group of fundamentalists sent message to Pastor Chainu Patel and Sagundas to appear before the village council of Gond tribal community . Since fasting prayer was going on, they refused. After sometime, same message was  sent to them again. They again expressed their inability to appear. Finally at about 04:00 PM, 15 of them led by Rameshwar Usendi stormed into the house. They were shouting slogans to stop conversions and were also shouting false allegations against conversions. Local believers were threatened to hold such meetings.
Similar incident occurred in Dundera village, half a kilometer away from Murnar, about a month back. A pastor was similarly questioned, threatened and forced to stop holding meeting in the village.
Pastor Chainu Patel and Sagundas were forced by this fundamentalist group to accompany them on a tractor to the alleged meeting of the Gond community at nearby village of Munver. But instead of the aforesaid meeting, Pastor Chainu Patel and Sagundas were staraightway taken to Keshkal police station and were handed over to the police. A group of fundamentalist people was already present there.
The complaint was lodged by Rameshwar Usendi. He accused them of conversion by allurement and hurting the religious sentiments. FIR was lodged against Pr Chainu Patel and Sagunram under section 295(A) and Chhattisgarh Freedom of Religion Bill.  No complaint against the assailants has been registered.
Bail application has been rejected in the lower court of Keshkal on October 6th and the police has obtained remand upto October 18th.
Preparation is underway to file the bail application in the Sessions Court of Kondagaon.
By-election in Keshkal is likely to be held in the month of November. Mr Mahesh Baghel of the BJP was MLA from this seat. He died in a road accident about a month back. This incident of atrocity against the Christians is directly corelated with BJP's attempt to hold the seat, by polarising the "Hindu votes".


Information of the attack came to the leaders of Chhattisgarh Christian Forum at about 10:00 AM on October 6th. Forum took immediate steps to build up pressure upon police and administration to take proper action against the assailants and to protect the village congregation.
Local pastors and leaders of Kanker, Keshkal and Kondagaon were mobilised to come forward and express their solidarity with fellow brothers.
A delegation of about 30 pastors and Christian leaders of Jagdalpur were mobilised immediately to meet the Superintendent of Police of Bastar(Jagdalpur) to present the real picture before him.
The Forum has been in continuous touch with the local leaders.
The Forum works in cooperation with EFI and Open Doors India.
Please uphold Pr Chainu Patel, Sagundas and the congregation before the Throne of Grace.

From A. Edgar