Orissa: Ordeal of Pastor Sushil Lima, for years a victim of radical Hindus

September 9, 2015 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

Persecution in MPBhubaneswar, September 31, 2015: For years, Pastor Sushil Lima and his family have been receiving threats from Hindu radicals. The latest episodes of violence took place a few days ago, when he was in the village of Kanheipur, in the district of Khurda (Indian state of Orissa). With the complicity of the local police, the extremists accused him of proselytizing and converting Hindus to Christianity.

The aggression is reported to AsiaNews by the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), which shares the story of the ordeal of the Rev. Lima, his family and other Christian faithful “tortured and humiliated, whose right to freely express their faith under Article 25 (1) of the Indian Constitution is violated by Hindu fundamentalists.”

Sushil Lima is a Christian pastor of 45, member of the All India Human Rights Council of Karnataka. He lives in the village of Jaltar (Rayagada district of Orissa) with his wife Ullasini and daughters of five and six years. Since 2005, when he left his job as a teacher in primary school to devote himself to prayer and to the spread of the Gospel, he suffered persecution for his pastoral work. In the first episode of violence he was attacked by RSS [Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Hindu ultra-nationalist paramilitary group – ed] activists while distributing leaflets in the village of Benta. The assailants dragged him off his bike, ripped his shirt and beat him savagely, threatening him with death if he returned to the village to preach the Christian message.

In August 2008, during the anti-Christian pogroms in Kandhamal in Orissa [during which at least 55 thousand faithful were forced to flee.  The seventh anniversary was marked a few days ago – ed], together with his family and other pastors, he was surrounded and threatened with being burned alive by Hindu fanatics. The threats have not stopped his ministry, through which about 100 faithful were baptized in various villages.

The last three attacks date back to last week. On August 23, the pastor paid a visit to one of the baptized faithful, 70 year old Bhagyadhar Majhi, in the village of Kanheipur. There were 17 Christians at the elderly man’s home. All the believers were insulted, attacked and dispersed by force by a group of local police, led by the inspector, and by about 40 Hindu fundamentalists of the RSS and the VHP [Vishwa Hindu Parishad, a Hindu ultranationalist group – ed].

The police arrested the pastor Lima on charges of forced conversions and creating a climate of tension among the population. They released him only late at night, after having humiliated him, dragged him into the police station and threatened him with beatings.

On(August 24 and 25, Hindu leaders again set about harassing one of the faithful, Mahendra Nayak, and his wife and forced them to attend the village meeting. There, they were tortured for having visited the pastor in the police station and threatened with expulsion from the community. The extremists have also gone to the school where their children studied and forced the institute to expel the children.

The GCIC also complains that during the arrest of the pastor three journalists were present, who wrote in their respective newspapers (Samaj, Samaya & Dharitri) a fabricated story about false accusations of proselytism, conversion of Hindus and of incitement to religious tensions, without providing clear evidence. The activist group concludes to AsiaNews that its members will “continue to pray for the victims so that all barriers are destroyed and the pastor and the faithful may profess freedom to their faith.”

– asianews

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