By BosNewsLife Asia Service
NEW DELHI, INDIA (BosNewsLife)-- A Christian father in eastern India has died after he and his wife were forced by angry villagers to spent the night in frigid water because they refused to deny their faith in Jesus Christ, BosNewsLife learned Sunday March 12.
Upset that his family had left their indigenous religion, tribal residents of Kubuaa village in Jarkhand state "immersed" Bartu Urawn and his spouse up to their necks in a cold pond, Christians with close knowledge about the situation said.
Their son, Beneswar, said after suffering illness and two bouts of paralysis due to nerve damage suffered in the 17-hour ordeal, the 50-year-old Bartu died. "All throughout the night, they were in the cold water shivering, and I along with 15 to 20 villagers were witness to the brutality," Beneswar explained in published remarks.
"The villagers kept asking my father if he is ready to forsake Christ and return to the Sarna (tribal religion) fold. He reiterated every time, 'I will not deny Christ.... I will continue to believe till my last breath.'"
He recalled that the after pulling the couple out the next morning, the villagers hit Bartu and his wife, and again pressured them to renounce Christ.
After the grueling ordeal, the couple fell seriously ill, Christians said. Bartu's wife recovered, while he became immobilized from paralysis.
Despite some measure of recovery, his body reportedly later became stiff again from a second attack of paralysis on January 20th, and he was unable to move his arms and legs before he died. "To add to the family's trauma, the same villagers would not allow his burial to take place, insisting that the entire family return to their ancestral faith," said Voice Of the Martyrs Canada (VOMC), an advocacy group.
Relatives reportedly informed police of the circumstances leading to Bartu's death, but officers apparently considered it a "natural death." Instead, they arranged for villagers to attend "peace talks" in February and to cease from their attacks on the Christian family. "The family has since returned to their home where they are living in fear," said VOMC, which supports Christians facing persecution.
The group said it had urged Christians to "pray for Beneswar, his mother, along with other family members and friends, as they mourn over this unexpected loss -- asking the "Prince of Peace" to comfort and strengthen them."