A group of masked men attacked a Christian prayer meet in remote Sarni area of Betul district in Madhya Pradesh, police said Sunday. Locals claimed that a man died in the resulting melee after he jumped into a well in panic.
According to eyewitnesses, the man died due to the ruckus Saturday night created by the miscreants, allegedly belonging to "rightist organisations".
"The incident took place around 8.30 p.m. at Saliya village where around eight to nine masked men forced their way into the Christian prayer meeting, attacked the organisers, damaged their vehicles and fled," Sub-Divisional officer (Police) Abhishek Rajan said.
"Later, the police found a body floating in a well, located 400 meters from the prayer venue. According to the locals, the man was attending the meeting and jumped into the well in panic when the miscreants attacked," he said.
"The police are yet to ascertain whether his death was related to the attack as his body was found floating within two hours of the commotion while medical experts say that it takes at least 12 hours for a body of a drowned person to surface," Rajan said.
Several attacks on Christian meets have been witnessed in the past in tribal-dominated Balaghat district also with the latest one on April 15 when some miscreants, allegedly belonging to rightwing Hindu groups, stormed a function organised by a Protestant group and attended by over 5,000 people.
Father Lijo Antony, assistant parish priest of the lone Catholic church in the area, said: "Hindu groups tried to forcibly enter the venue alleging the programme was aimed at converting gullible tribal people."
The police imposed prohibitory orders in the area after the incident. The administration also gave protection to 23 Protestant pastors working in the area, the priest said.
Dear praying Saints
My cousin Mr. Sonu Gilbert’s son ‘Amit Gilbert’ was ministering in Salaiya near Betul, central India, on April 17th, and was attacked by Bajrang Dal . They apparently sized Amit, killed him and threw in a well. Please pray for his mother Mrs. Rani and father Mr. Sonu Gilbert.
Please pray for the following:
o The Holy Spirit will bring His comfort to the entire family and relatives
o That those persecuted Amit, will come to the repentance and find their salvation in Jesus
o This story of Martyrdom will not be used by Satan to bring fear and discouragement in the body, rather will raise the level of faith, commitment, shrewdness, and vision of those laboring in the Northern India
“When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne; they cried out with a loud voice, "O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before thou wilt judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell upon the earth?” (Rev 6:9, 10)
I also request you to forward this mail to all that can help in prayer mobilization.
Attack on Christian meet, youth falls into well, dies
A Christian youth died as he fell into an open well while fleeing in panic from a group of suspected right-wing activists who attacked a prayer meeting in Salaiyya village of Betul district late on Saturday night.
Three persons, including a woman, were injured in the attack that occurred when about 400 Christians were holding a prayer meet in the village, about 12 km from the Sarni Police Station. The attackers, wearing masks, were carrying sticks and tubelights and smashed vehicles parked at the venue.
Amit Gilbert, aged around 24, had come from Raipur to attend the meeting. He fell into the well about 300 metres from the venue and suffered injuries on his head and legs. The body was fished out in the wee hours of Sunday.
The community took out a silent march in Sarni on Sunday to protest against the incident. The police have registered a case against unknown persons, Betul SP R L Prajapati told The Indian Express.