18 Indian Christians charged anew in previously settled case

Church building of Pastor Hidma Sodi is damaged in Bhelwapal villagel, Chhattisgarh state, India in 2017.
Photo courtesy of Morning Star News

NEW DEHLI, India — Eighteen Christians falsely accused in a vandalism case five years ago are once again fighting the charges.

The Christians from Bhelwapal village in Chhattisgarh state were jailed March 9–14 for the 2017 case in which tribal animists damaged a pastor’s home, church and a Hindu idol, Morning Star News reported.

At the time, tribal villagers claimed the pastor smashed the idol.

An animist, who accused the Christians but has since become a believer in Jesus, said the Christians were framed.

A 2018 agreement dropped charges against the Christians and animists, the News stated.

Increasing attacks

The case resurfaced in 2019 or 2020, reported accused pastor Hidma Sodi, and authorities demanded a new agreement.

On March 9, the Christians and eight animists were jailed. The Christians, charged with “hurting religious sentiments,” were released on bail March 14.

Since Narendra Modi, a self-described Hindu nationalist, became prime minister in 2014, Hindu extremists have increased attacks on Christians.

In Uttar Pradesh state, 13 Christians are in jail on false charges of “forcible conversion,” the human rights group International Christian Concern reported. In the first quarter of 2022, some 130 incidents of persecution against Christians were reported in Uttar Pradesh state.

India is No. 10 on Open Doors’ 2022 World Watch List of places most difficult to be a Christian.

This article first appeared on thealabamabaptist.org

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