I was blessed and fortunate to be able to meet with my son Prasad Gampala via Skype last evening. I had not seen or spoken to him in well over 7 months, and I have not had much communication with any of the brethren in India over the last two months. Most of that due the civil conflict that has engulfed their state.
Prasad explained in some detail the reasons why and the dire situation as it exists in Andrha Pradesh and what it means for them. All brethren there whom we serve should be in our prayers. This goes for those at Hebron also.
The city of Hyderabad and Telangana areas of Andrha Pradesh have petitioned to become their own state, which the Indian federal government permitted in a Bifurcation. In India – most of Indian upper caste society lives in the cities. Rural areas such as Rajupalem are for the low castes and poor. Slums tend to lie around the outskirts of Indian cities and they consist of servant labor for the higher castes living there. Untouchables are mostly relegated to the rural slums such as Lanka and Rajupalem. The split will separate Hyderabad and wealthy areas of Andrha Pradesh from the poorer coastal rice delta.
The reasons for the split are too numerous, complicated and convoluted for us to understand. The prism of Hindu Caste is what governs everything in India – and it’s mind-bending for those of us in the USA to even contemplate the logic that goes into most arguments and conflicts in India. Ultimately it has to do with upper castes having bargaining power with Delhi and other capitals for larger share of power in the federal government of India. The bifurcation permits some castes with allegiance to Marxist and Maoist factions to have an unbridled hold on power. Of primary concerns for the brethren aside from a near economic-collapse, is electricity and water. Hyderabad controls much of the coal that supplies electricity for the state of Andrha Pradesh and they have moved to dam up and control all water supplies.
The entire coastal area of the state has been shut down and on strike for the last 70 days in protest of the civil conflict. Buses and trains are not running. Government and banks are also rarely open. Most businesses are closed along with many roads. Nothing is moving. Electricity unions went on strike in Vijayawada and the coastal areas where the Gampalas and Hebron are located have had almost no electricity. If there is power – it is very limited and often for very short duration. Much of their area is often in total darkness for weeks on end.
Districts in their area have declared martial law with shoot-on-sight curfews imposed intended to try and stop the protests, but thus far that has not worked.
Of serious concern is water and the drying up of the canals that fill the rice fields in the coastal delta. Hyderabad sits high up on a plateau, all of the water that fills the lowland rice delta of the coasts comes through their area. Recall that water is considered a god, one of their main deities. Since the Bifurcation, Telangana is damming up the water and plans on keeping it for itself – and in so doing, will inflict famine on the lowland coastal areas of Andrha Pradesh – which is already suffering more intense misery than it has before all this began.
With everything closed most of the time – regular life is becoming increasingly difficult for many of the brethren. They do not know when this conflict will end, or what resolution if any will be decided. There is real fear that without the water and power, much of coastal Andrha Pradesh will suffer untold misery, famine and death, not to mention having no voice in their national government.
Even for other more well-to-do areas like Palokollu where Hebron Home is located, this conflict is causing disruption and concern. Sagar jalli was planning on coming to the USA for the Feast in September but cancelled due the growing tensions and also for health issues his wife is now suffering.
Prasad himself is doing well though he is by himself at this time. His wife Anusha went back to her parent’s home in Bihar state due the conflict. Their first child is expected sometime in January or early February. Prasad is trying to find a way to get to Bihar on the 24th of this month for a planned Gospel mission in that state (which Muslims control). It is normally a two-day train trip – but he is expecting to have to get out of Andrha Pradesh via several methods and get on a train to Bihar that does not run through the contested areas. I had asked him who will safeguard his home in Rajaro Peta in his absence, and he smiled and told me that God will protect everything because he is going to do His work of preaching, and is confident the Lord will watch over his place.
He ended our conversation with an admonition that even though the days are growing dark, it is our duty to continue to preach the Gospel and said we must “do or die”. As always – I find myself in awe and inspiration over their dedication to Our Father’s work and find myself very short in stature of faith in comparison. Blessed are the poor, for theirs indeed is the Kingdom of God.
Do keep them all in prayer. I’ll have a more detailed update later in relation to his growing ministry.