Sherkund, a rural village in Indore, Madhya Pradesh, is home to around 200 families. Only ten of these families are Christian. Ajay*, a pastor who leads the Christian families in Sherkund reported that the Christians had experienced three premeditated and systematic attacks in the past two months alone. In this blog, we cover these three incidents as reported by Pastor Ajay.
On the evening of 7 June, 2020, Govind* with three of his family members — his wife, his daughter and one male relative were praying in their home. During the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, in keeping with the lockdown guidelines, the Christians in the village had stopped regular church services and worshipped instead in their own homes with their respective families. During one such family prayer, a group of policemen, led by the town inspector, forcefully barged into Govind’s house and attacked the unsuspecting family. Govind and the male relative were severely beaten with sticks and rods. The police also sexually molested the wife and daughter. After this barbarous act, they took the family to the police station and filed an FIR against them on allegations of breach of lockdown regulations and misconduct with the police authorities. ADF India’s allied lawyers intervened and the court granted them bail the very next day of the arrest. Despite being granted bail, Govind’s family was illegally detained at the station for five days.
In two other incidents of targeting Christians reported by Pastor Ajay, on July 25, Rajesh* was attacked by 4-5 goons while he was working in the fields. With the side of his neck slit with a knife, Rajesh barely escaped with his life. On August 11, another peaceful family prayer was disrupted by a violent mob and the family members gravely beaten. In both these cases, the Christians were threatened to denounce their faith in Christ.
Pastor Ajay informed that most of the non-Christian villagers were accepting of the differences in beliefs. However, there are a few concerted religious extremists who orchestrate such attacks against the minority Christians in the village. Not only do the extremists threaten, abuse and physically assault the Christians, they also spread false stories of forced conversions to put the innocent Christians behind bars. The perpetrators often enjoy impunity from the law despite the crimes they commit, because the police are complicit.
In the face of these vicious challenges, the Christians continue to be strong in their faith in God and also in the courts. The threat of more attacks remains, without any guarantee of protection by the local police. A writ petition was filed at the High Court for the first incident demanding compensation and protection for the victims, and legal action against the perpetrators. FIRs have been lodged for the other two incidents. ADF India will continue to defend the Christians in Sherkund and seek protection for their life. They deserve to live their lives peacefully and worship in freedom. We invite you to sign the pledge that No One Should Be Targeted for Their Faith.