Uttar Pradesh: The Passion of churches at Easter (photos and video)
Over the past five days one church was attacked and another re-opened following the order of a High Court. The Indian state is the most dangerous for Christians. For one activist, some “people think that they can do anything in the name of religion and get away with it without consequences."
New Delhi (AsiaNews) – A recent court order enabled a church to reopen but another was attacked after it too was allowed to reopen following a court order in Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state but one that is also the most dangerous for Indian Christians.
Recent events have raised concerns among Christians during Holy Week before Easter. Speaking to AsiaNews, the Rev David, a local activist, said that "Religious fanaticism is on the rise in northern India."
Last Thursday, the High Court in Allahabad, which local authorities dominated by Hindu nationalists have renamed Prayagraj a few months ago, ordered the State of Uttar Pradesh to reopen a church in the Siddharth Nagar District.
The court also ruled that the local pastor, Rev Satyen Biswakarma, and members of his church, must be protected, so that they "can conduct prayer services in peace".
The ADF (Alliance Defending Freedom) India reports that the church was shut down on 16 September 2018, when a group of Hindu radicals, pretending to be state officials, recorded their prayers and filed a complaint, claiming that the community did not have the necessary permits to worship.
Church members are happy at the ruling. “The Court has protected the idea of India as outlined in the Constitution. No one should be targeted for their faith,” said ADF India director Tehmina Arora.
However, on Palm Sunday, news came of an attack against an Assemblies of God church in Jamdaha, Khetasarai, Jaunpur District (see pictures and video), which saddened the local Christian community.
About 200 men attacked the church with police standing idly by and beat its pastor, Rev Ram Vachan Bind, as well as women and men of the congregation with sticks.
The clergyman was forced to flee with his family to a neighbouring village. The church had been forced to close in September last year, but another court issued an order allowing it to reopen.
“No arrest so far but police are cooperating,” said Rev David. The “Situation in Khetasarai is tense because Christians think that they can be targeted again,” he added. “We need to keep exerting pressure on police authorities so that they will provide security.”
Sadly, "The worst thing is that people think that they can do anything in the name of religion and get away with it without consequences."