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Pastor in Jharkhand May Face Life in Prison on False Charges
Friday, September 7, 2018, 19:44 (IST)
A pastor in Jharkhand could end up in prison for life after authorities falsely charged him for leading a tribal rebel movement.
Police in Murhu village, Khunti District booked Pr Jidan Herenz in March under 13 sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), accusing him of convening unlawful assemblies, altering the appearance of Indian currency (coin), criminal conspiracy and sedition for allegedly leading the rebellious pathalgadi, a movement by tribal Adivasis to fight for indigenous rights.
Christian leaders in Jharkhand suspect Hindu extremists are behind the hasty, baseless accusations against Herenz.
Herenz and his family absconded deep into district forests where he has planted a church among remote tribal people.
"It worries me, it is difficult to gather as a church, and several false cases have been booked against me," Herenz, 55, wrote to Morning Star News last month.
"There is severe opposition, threats, but the ministry must continue," he added.
On Aug. 8, the Ranchi High Court granted anticipatory bail to Herenz.
"It's a miracle that I have been granted bail by the High Court," said Herenz.
A Christian residing in the same district who spoke on condition of anonymity said Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) members have long tried to trap pastors in false cases.
"It becomes easier for them to declare India as a Hindu nation if they can stop pastors from sharing the gospel and spreading Christianity," he told MSN.
"Unless they disable the pastors from preaching and assembling as a church, they can't influence the members of the society," he added.
Herenz has been ministering Khunti District for the past 28 years. He is an Adivasi raised in a Christian family. He has planted nine churches in Jharkhand.
He said his time in hiding brought joy.
"The six months spent in the forest sharing the gospel, and in prayer and worship, were fruitful and joyous, and the bail is a result of the Lord hearing our prayers," said Herenz.
"The Lord raised a church there," he added.
At least 50 Adivasis from the forest area have accepted Christ and gather every Sunday for worship, the pastor's brother, Paulus Herenz, told MSN.