Christian Persecution Jul/Aug 2017

INDIA—A Christian in Jharkhand state, India, recently succumbed to illnesses incurred when villagers immersed him and his wife in a cold pond because they had left their indigenous religion and refused to deny Christ.

Tribal residents bound and forced Bartu Urawn and his wife into frigid water up to their necks for 17 hours—from 5 p.m. to 10 a.m.—when temperatures often drop below freezing, reported their son, Beneswar Urawn.

“All throughout the night, they were in the cold water shivering, and I, along with 15 to 20 villagers, were witness to the brutality,” Beneswar told Global Christian News. “The villagers kept asking my father if he is ready to forsake Christ and return to the Sarna fold. He reiterated every time, ‘I will not deny Christ….I will continue to believe until my last breath.’”

The torture came after villagers abused Urawn and his family for three years for leaving the practice of Sarna Dharam, or “Religion of the Holy Woods,” which requires blood sacrifices to a supreme god and ritual service to other gods.

Previous to the torture, villagers had forced Urawn to attend their worship, in which they sacrificed an animal. They forced a portion of the sacrifice down his throat and made him drink fermented liquor.

Besides assaulting Urawn and his wife, a village mob attacked Beneswar Urawn, his wife, and his younger brother, locking them inside their house for hours. They also polluted the family’s drinking water source, Beneswar said.

Bartu Urawn and his family had placed their faith in Christ 10 years ago, and when the villagers realized they would not renounce Christ after years of threats and assaults, they told Urawn that demons would not let him live. They tied the hands of Urawn and his wife behind their backs and put them into the pond.

After pulling them out the next morning, the villagers hit Urawn and his wife and again pressured them to renounce Christ, his son said. The couple fell seriously ill. Urawn’s wife recovered, but Urawn became paralyzed due to nerve damage and later died.

Initially, villagers refused to let Beneswar bury his father. They stood around Urawn’s body with wooden sticks, prepared to attack if he tried to recover it for burial. But the next day, he and four other Christians were able to carry the body six miles to government land for a funeral service.

Upon their return, villagers demanded the family prepare a meal for the village inhabitants in accordance with Sarna Dharam ritual. Beneswar refused, saying they would hold a prayer meeting instead, and the villagers threatened to kill him as they had killed his father, he said.

Relatives informed police, but officers called Urawn’s death a “natural death” and merely suggested villagers attend peace talks and cease attacks on the Christian family.

Beneswar and his family fled for a time, but they are now back in their village, where they face constant threats because of their faith.

India ranks 15th on Open Doors’ 2017 World Watch List of the 50 countries where Christians experience the worst persecution.

by Morning Star News
To read the full report, go to Morningstarnews.org.

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