Missionaries Attacked During Film Showing in North India; Equipment Seized

( [email protected] ) Aug 20, 2007 10:25 AM EDT

A team of four missionaries was badly beaten last week during a film showing for villagers.

While the people outside the village gathered last Tuesday to watch the movie “Man of Mercy,” an Indian-made film portraying the life of Jesus, some anti-Christian elements disrupted the show and started beating the missionaries from the mission group Gospel for Asia.

The police who were alerted reportedly confiscated the film equipments and started to beat the GFA missionaries. The missionaries were later arrested by the police.

Upon intervention of the GFA state leader in Rajasthan, the four men were released around noon the following day. The film equipments, however, are said to be still in police custody.

Elsewhere, two Gospel for Asia missionaries and two Bible college students in North India were attacked while distributing tracts to people.

Chetan, one of the GFA missionaries, was badly beaten and injured.

According to reports, persecution in India has increased dramatically in recent years, with more incidents recorded between 1998 and 2003 than in the previous 100 years.

Open Doors, a ministry that serves persecuted Christians worldwide, says this is largely due to a surge in Hindu fundamentalism. The ruling Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has created cells of young Hindu activists in many towns and universities. Hindutva, an awakening of militant Hinduism, is gaining ground as a result.

Last week, as India celebrated the 60th anniversary of its independence from British rule, police in Mysore, India, told a group of 70 believers to stop offering Independence Day prayers without permission after Hindu radicals barged in to the prayer hall and disrupted them.

“Believers had gathered merely to offer prayers for their country in a peaceful manner,” a reporter for New Delhi-based Christian Today wrote in a report of the incident on Wednesday. “Instead of celebrating the Independence, which marks freedom for India, these radicals deny the freedom of worship for believers which the right inscribed in the constitution of Independent India granted them.”

The report also noted that the incident is one of many amid the recent escalation of attacks on Christians in Karnataka state.

In the nation of 1.1 billion, only 2.3 percent is Christian, according to the 2001 census, while Hindus make up 80.5 percent and Muslims 13.4 percent.