India: Police Detain Christians Providing Aid to the Poor in Tamil Nadu

April 1, 2020

The persecution of Christians in India continues to escalate. Note that this is not just mob violence, but is in this case (and others we have seen), the persecution is sanctioned by Indian officials: in this story, we read that “police in southern India’s Tamil Nadu state rushed to a slum where Christians were providing food and other aid earlier this month and detained them on false charges of forcible conversion.”

As Christianity continues to grow in the country, Hindu radicals are feeling increasingly threatened, and are lashing out more frequently, with no pushback from law enforcement officials. Please pray that peace would prevail for the Christians in India, and that the light of Holy Orthodoxy would again dawn in this land to which St. Thomas the Apostle first brought the Gospel.

For previous coverage of the persecution of Christians in India, see here.

“Police Detain Christians Providing Aid to the Poor in Tamil Nadu, India,” Morning Star News, March 30, 2020:

HYDERABAD, India (Morning Star News) – Police in southern India’s Tamil Nadu state rushed to a slum where Christians were providing food and other aid earlier this month and detained them on false charges of forcible conversion, sources said.

Marakkanam police in Viluppuram District humiliated the Christians, including the presbyter of the Viluppuram Church of South India, accusing them in coarse language of trying to fraudulently convert the poor in the guise of providing basic necessities, said the church’s pastor, the Rev. Perumal Kanagaraj.

Shortly after Pastor Kanagaraj and about 30 young adults from the church arrived from Viluppuram to the nearby slum area of Anumandai village on March 8, a member of the Hindu Munnani extremist group showed up and began uttering obscenities at them, the church leader said.

“The Hindu Munnani activist soon lost his cool and started beating the youth missionaries while he continued abusing them in extremely foul language,” Pastor Kanagaraj said. “Within no time the crowd started gathering, and he held us up there and was not letting us move.”

When the Christians began to call police, the Hindu nationalist told them he had already filed a police complaint against them, and that he would put them behind bars at any cost, he said.

“We told the person, ‘Brother, you don’t like it that we are coming here. It is fine. We will leave,’” but he threatened us, that if we left from the place we would be burnt alive,” Pastor Kanagaraj told Morning Star News. “He was getting more and more aggressive.”

The Christians were shocked when police arrived and took them into custody, he said.

“They spoke ill about Christianity and slapped us as we stood there in the police station helplessly,” Pastor Kanagaraj said. “We requested that the police not lodge any cases against the [Christian] youths, fearing police cases would affect their careers.”

Marakkanam Inspector of Police Senthil Vinayagam spoke abusively to the Christians, telling them, “Instead of doing this work, send your wives to someone and earn money,’” according to an eyewitness who requested anonymity.

“The inspector was trying hard to incite the youths that they would respond equally aggressively to his words, but by God’s grace we did not fall into it,” Pastor Kanagaraj said.

Police released them with a warning that they should not be seen again attempting to convert people in the area, he said….

Police misbehavior is one of the main catalysts for hostilities against Christians in Tamil Nadu state, a rights activist said.

Police complicity with Hindu extremist wrongdoing was also evident in Pakkam village, Vellore District, earlier this month. Seven Hindu extremists intercepted Babu Phinehas and his wife, Esther Phinehas, on March 5 and stopped them from distributing gospel tracts, Tamil Nadu-based Christian rights activist C.J. Zeba told Morning Star News.

As the Christian couple shared gospel tracts in Pakkam village while on their way home from selling detergent, the Hindu extremists stopped them, locked the Christian couple’s motorbike and took the key, he said.

The Hindu nationalists forced them sit on the road as the assailants phoned friends, inviting them to join them to publicly disgrace the couple for distributing gospel tracts, Zeba said.

“When their friends also reached the spot, they abused the couple with foul language as they badgered them with questions – ‘Why are you converting Hindus to Christianity?’” Zeba told Morning Star News.

The assailants video-recorded the harassment and circulated it on social media. The video shows one of the assailants asking the names of Phinehas’ parents, and when he replies, “Parvathy,” the extremist leader says it is a Hindu name, that they have converted to Christianity and are defiling Hinduism by working as Christian agents.

The Hindu extremist mob forcefully smeared Hindu sacred ash and vermillion on the Christian man’s forehead, he said….

India is ranked 10th on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2020 World Watch List of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian. The country was 31st in 2013, but its position has worsened since Narendra Modi of the Bharatiya Janata Party came to power in 2014.