Christian in India Dies After Tribal Villagers Immerse Him, Wife in Cold Pond, Son Says

NEW DELHI (Morning Star News) – A Christian in Jharkhand state, India last month succumbed to illnesses incurred when villagers immersed him and his wife in frigid water because they refused to deny Christ, relatives said.

Upset that his family had left their indigenous religion, tribal residents of Kubuaa village, Palamu District immersed Bartu Urawn and his wife up to their necks in a cold pond one night this winter, when temperatures can dip below freezing, from 5 p.m. to 10 a.m. the next morning, according to their son, Beneswar Urawn.

After suffering illness and two bouts of paralysis due to nerve damage suffered in the 17-hour ordeal, his son said, Urawn died on Jan. 20. He was 50.

“All throughout the night, they were in the cold water shivering, and I along with 15-20 villagers were witness to the brutality,” Beneswar Urawn told Global Christian News. “The villagers kept asking my father if he is ready to forsake Christ and return to the Sarna fold. He reiterated every time, ‘I will not deny Christ … I will continue to believe till my last breath.’”

The torture came after three years of abuse of Urawn and his family at the hands of villagers who practice Sarna Dharam, or “Religion of the Holy Woods,” which requires blood sacrifices to a supreme god and ritual service to other gods.

Previous to the torture, villagers had forced Urawn to attend their worship, in which they sacrificed an animal, his son said. They forced a portion of the sacrifice down his throat and made him drink fermented liquor, he said.

Besides assaulting Urawn and his wife, the village mob attacked Beneswar Urawn, his wife and his younger brother, locking them inside their house for hours. They also polluted the family’s drinking water source, Beneswar Urawn said.

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Urawn and his family had put their faith in Christ 10 years ago, and when the villagers realized he would not renounce Him after three years of being threatened, ostracized and assaulted, they told Urawn that demons would not let him live, his son said. They tied the hands of Urawn and his wife behind their backs and put them into the pond, he said.

After pulling them out the next morning, the villagers hit Urawn and his wife and again pressured them to renounce Christ, his son said. The couple fell seriously ill. In time Urawn’s wife recovered, while he became immobilized from paralysis.

After some measure of recovery, his body later became stiff again from a second attack of paralysis on Jan. 20, and he was unable to move his hands and legs before he died, his son said.

Initially villagers refused to allow Beneswar Urawn to bury his father, standing around the body with wooden sticks prepared to attack if he tried to recover it for burial, he added. The next day, he and four other Christians were able to carry the body 10 kilometers (six miles) to government land for a funeral service.

Upon their return, villagers demanded that the family prepare a meal for the village inhabitants in accordance with Sarna Dharam ritual, he said. Beneswar Urawn refused, saying they would hold a prayer meeting instead, and the villagers threatened to kill him as they had killed his father, he said.

Fleeing for their lives, the family found refuge in a village 35 kilometers (21 miles) away.

Relatives tried to inform police, but officers called it a “natural death,” Urawn’s son said.  They suggested villagers attend “peace talks” on Feb. 2 and cease attacks on the Christian family. The family has since returned to their home, where they live in fear.

Nine other families also had decided to follow Christ when the Urawns did so 10 years ago, but after the same daily ostracism, discrimination, threats and persecution, seven families returned to their ancestral religion.

India ranked 15th on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2017 World Watch List of the countries where Christians experience the most persecution.

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  • Coach

    May the Lamb of God receive the full reward for which He was slain. It’s hard to fathom what they experience, but the reality is those 7 families who returned to their previous religion represent most of what calls itself Christian in the U.S. Vice President Pence for example, gave testiphony of how he gave his life to Christ, but in his overwhelming support of homosexuality, he’s proven what he truly is, another false convert.

    Praise the Lord for His true sheep, who hear His truth and live accordingly, may those of us who maintain the good confession persevere in faith.

    • And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?

      Pence gave a stronger testimony than “gave my life to Christ” (which is a claim of works), saying he made a “personal decision to trust Christ” (which is a claim of faith). Since lying is a popular sport for politicians, it is possible that his claims are simply false. You cannot finally tell his faith from examining his misguided politics, unless you know that he is a perfect man that never stumbles.

      • Coach

        Thank you David for the clarity, I wasn’t sure of his exact words. I will say this though. I believe a mere statement doesn’t say what a person is trusting in, their actions do, could he repent and persevere in true faith, yes, but most people who claim to trust in Christ, trust in their walking an aisle, repeating a prayer, baptism, etc. As Christ said in John 6, Nobody can come to Christ unless the Father draws them, most people are drawn by emotional pep talks, soft music, and/or special lighting to walk to the front stage, and believe themselves to have trusted Christ, when the evidence that a person truly believes the gospel is how they align with Biblical truth.
        If the sexually immoral, homosexuals, thieves, etc. will not enter the kingdom, where do you suppose those who applaud and support their lifestyles will be?

        I recall making a decision in highschool, writing it on the calendar at home, I look back now and see what I was trusting in then and it wasn’t Christ, I was merely a lost person, who walked an aisle, but God in His mercy would show me grace later on, revealing the wickedness that i had done in light of scripture and my first thought was how I needed to rededicate my life to Christ (had been taught that as a Southern Baptist), God’s Word left me without an option, but to cast myself fully on the mercy of God and my mind had been transformed (Romans 12:2) it was no longer that I merely believed certain sinful actions were wrong and went before God asking for forgiveness and trying to do better, I was a depraved wretch, fully needing God’s grace to do anything other than sin. Why do I judge that Mr. Pence is most likely a false convert, because I know the Savior and He provides so great a salvation. Believers stumble, true, I can’t deny that, but God loves and chastens His people, so when I see someone embracing sin for the sake of position, one thing’s evident, they have not been awakened from the dead, but are still in their sins.

        I want to have the same courage as this man had, but I know where it came from and I know it didn’t originate within the man, but the power of God makes one so bold as to endure great suffering while maintaining the good confession.

        I know a perfect man who never stumbles, He is the only Mediator between God and man, the Man Christ Jesus.