Photo: – 27/2/17

Bartu Urawn lived in the tribal Indian village of Kubuaa where the people worship according to the native religion of Sarna Dharam. Thus, when Urawn and his family converted to Christianity ten years ago, they became targets of hate and oppression.

Urawn died last month after he and his wife were forced to stand overnight for seventeen hours in a freezing pond—punishment for refusing to denounce their faith in Christ, reports Global Christian News.

Persecution began when other villagers noticed that the Urawn family, along with nine other convert families, began to have better lives. Before their conversion they were racked by poverty and a series of deaths which strained the family. After their conversion they “had food to eat, health in our bodies and above all peace in our hearts,” said Bartu’s son Beneswar.

However, faced with daily threats and persecutions, seven of the nine families finally returned to the native religion. Then the villagers began to specifically target the Urawn family, once forcing Bartu to attend a pagan sacrifice and forcing him to partake of the sacrifice, telling him that the demons would not let him live.

Seeing that their every effort could not shake the family’s faith, villagers tied Bartu and his wife’s hands behind their backs and forced them into a frozen pond, with only their heads above water, for seventeen hours.

“It was last year in winter when the cruel villagers put my mother and father in cold water at 5 in the evening till 10 next day morning. I was away and on my return, they made me sit outside the pond and watch my parents die,” said Beneswar.

“All throughout the night they were inside the cold water shivering and I along with fifteen to twenty villagers were witness to the brutality. 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,’” he added.

The next morning the enraged villagers pulled them out of the water and began to beat them. They both became seriously ill, but while his wife recovered, Bartu suffered a paralytic attack and became immobile. Following a second attack he died on January 20 of this year. Villagers tried to prevent the family from burying their father, but with the help of some other Christians they carried his body six miles to be buried on government land.

The rest of the family has been told that they will die in the same manner, and police from a neighboring village where the family took refuge have taken no serious action.

According to the 2017 World Watch List from Open Doors, a non-governmental organization aiding persecuted Christians around the world, India ranks No. 15 in the list of 50 countries with the worst record on Christian persecution.

Open Doors classifies the persecution level as “very high” in India and says Christians are “regularly attacked by radical Hindus” in the country.