Jharkhand, a Christian dies a martyr’s death for refusing to recant and return to tree religion
by Santosh Digal

Bartu Urawn, 50, lived in the village of Kubuaa. A group of 15 Hindu Adivasi bound him and threw him into a cold pond. "I will not deny Christ . . . I will continue to believe till my last breath,” he said. A report by the Mumbai-based Catholic Secular Forum found that in 2016 at least ten Christians were killed for their faith.

Ranchi (AsiaNews) – A Christian man in Jharkhand died a martyr’s death after he was forced, hands tied, to spend 17 hours in a cold pond for refusing to renounce his faith in Christ.

The incident occurred in the village of Kubuaa, Palamu district, where Bartu Urawn, a 50-year-old Christian, lived with his wife and son Beneswar.

The latter slammed the violence by Hindu radicals against a member of the Christian minority in India, whose constitution guarantees freedom of worship, a principle increasingly violated.

Bartu and his family had converted to Christianity ten years ago, as had nine other families in the village. Later seven of there were forced to re-embrace their original religion.

The other villagers belong to a tribal group that worships Sarna, the sacred grove of the Sai tree, whose mythological roots are shared by Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. The religion also involves animal sacrifice.

Beneswar said that Hindus opposed his parents’ conversion and had targeted them. in an attempt to get them to renounce their faith, a group of 15 people tied them up, threw into the cold water, and left them overnight, whilst he was forced to watch their agony.

“The villagers kept asking my father if he was ready to forsake Christ,” the son said. Every time, he said, "I will not deny Christ . . . I will continue to believe till my last breath".

He noted that his father was also forced to eat some sacrificial meat and drink a fermented substance before his ordeal.

Beneswar said he was forced to drink polluted water. His mother survived.

According to the latest report by Open Doors, India ranks 15th on its worldwide watch list of countries where Christians are persecuted.

According to 2011 census, Hindus are the majority (79.8 per cent out of a population of 1.2 billion), whilst Christians represent only 2.3 per cent (about 27.8 million), mostly Dalits (untouchables) and tribal.

A recent report by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom found that India does not meet international standards on freedom, leading to the discrimination and persecution of minorities.

Although the constitution formally guarantees religious diversity and freedom of belief, minorities – especially Christians – are often subjected to violence, harassment and various forms of intimidation.

In 2016, at least ten Christians were killed and more than 500 were attacked for their faith or for allegedly converting people to Christianity, this according to a report by the Mumbai-based Catholic Secular Forum.