Six Christians in India's Jharkhand state, who were reportedly jailed for a month simply for praying for a sick Hindu woman, have led fellow inmates to Christ by sharing the Gospel inside of prison, they claim.
Local sources have told Morning Star News that police arrested the six Christians on Sept. 16 in the Ghosra village after local Hindu extremists attacked the group when they went to the home of a local Hindu man to pray for God to heal his sick wife.
Instead of arresting the Hindu villagers that attacked the praying Christians, sources said that authorities charged the victims of the attack with insulting religion and "promoting enmity between classes," both charges that are punishable by up to three years in prison.
In addition to the arrest, police officers physically beat two of the Christians — 25-year-old Sajan Majhi and 20-year-old Kalender Majhi.
Thirty-five-year-old Dasrath Karketta, another Christian who was arrested, told Morning Star News that the police officers repeatedly hit the two men.
"They didn't give us a chance to speak. If they inquired of us, we could have explained what happened exactly, but they didn't," Karketta was quoted as saying. "Instead, they scarred the face of Kalender Majhi. He bled also."
Karketta explained that they spent one month in jail "joyously" before they were each released on bail.
During their stint in jail, Karketta said that he and the four other male Christians he was arrested with read the Bible, prayed, worshiped, sang hymns and evangelized to fellow inmates.
"We shared the gospel with other inmates in the district jail," Karketta said. "There also, people came to Christ. We strongly felt the Lord was using us for His work and were happy about it."
Recalling the day of his arrest, Karketta explained that he and the others were specifically asked by Bikhru Majhi to go to his home and pray for his wife because Majhi had heard Karketta's testimony about how he beat cancer and was led to Christ.
Although Majhi is a Hindu, the report explains that he has regularly invited Christians to pray for his wife.
"Bikhru believes the prayers can heal her," Karketta was quoted as saying.
Despite the fact that they were invited to the home to pray for the sick woman, the local Hindu mob didn't care and believed they were there only for conversion.
"They surrounded us and started beating the Christian brothers and me," Christian woman Balmuni Kumari told Morning Star News. "We told them it's not conversion, we only came to pray for a sick woman."
Kumari, who was the only woman arrested during the incident, noted that she was sent to a woman's prison. She also explained that threats were made against her family by Hindu radicals while she was in detention. The Hindu radicals demanded that her family flee the village.
"The family faced severe opposition because of their faith," Kumari's brother, Singhray Kullu, told Morning Star News. "The Gondis plotted to expel them from the village. Balmuni's mother went into depression. Things turned normal after her release."
The six Christians arrested in the Ghosra village are not alone in their persecution. India ranks as the 15th worst country in the world when it comes to Christian persecution, according to Open Doors USA's 2017 World Watch List.
According to Open Doors USA, since Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party took power in 2014, radical Hinduism has "increased steadily."
"While the level of intolerance continues to increase, Christians are regularly attacked by radical Hindus," an Open Doors fact sheet states. "The level of impunity has gone up markedly, with communities of converts to Christianity from Hinduism bearing the brunt of the persecution. They are constantly under pressure to return to their old beliefs, and are often physically assaulted, sometimes killed. Protestant Christian communities are the second main target because of their involvement in outreach activities and conversions, and they also face regular attacks by radical Hindus."
Earlier this month, it was reported that as many as 10 churches in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu have been banned from holding worship services unless they get approval from a government office. The ban was enacted against each church after Hindu groups complained to authorities.
Last month, it was reported that two Christian women in the Madhya Pradesh state, which has been ruled by the BJP for the last 14 years, were arrested on false charges of forcible conversion after a local Hindu group filed a complaint.
The women were transporting a group of 10 kids to Mumbai by train when they were arrested.
The arrest of the women comes after multiple reports of similar arrests of Christian chaperones earlier this year. In each case, Christian chaperones were arrested while transporting Christian children via train in Madhya Pradesh.
Authorities claimed that although the children come from Christian neighborhoods, they were not registered as Christians with the government.
"This type of repeated harassment only on the Christians is very disturbing," Father Maria Stephen, the public relations officer for the Archdiocese of Bhopal, told Crux. "The authorities have no patience to find out the reality and framing them as if they are going to convert is to be condemned."
The Indian Express reports that earlier this month, the Madhya Pradesh High Court has reprimanded railway police for arresting the two Christian women and for detaining the Christian children. Additionally, the court has called for an investigation into the police department's actions.