by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent
(Worthy News) - A mob of Hindu nationalists beat up three pastors in front of police officers at a police station in India’s Chhattisgarh State after the Christian leaders were summoned there to answer questions about holding worship services, Morning Star News (MSN) reports. Persecution against Christians in India has intensified greatly since the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party took power in 2014.
Pastor Harish Sahu had been holding a service at the New Life Fellowship Ministry in Raipur on September 5, when police arrived in a van which also contained a group of around eight Hindu nationalists, MSN said.“I was conducting the worship when they arrived,” Pastor Sahu told Morning Star News. “The policemen asked me what I was doing, and I said that I was sharing the Word of God from the Holy Book.” The Hindus in the van tried to force their way into the church, but the police prevented them. “Then a police officer entered the church, filmed the service for a few minutes, clicked some pictures, and went outside and showed the video and pictures to the extremists.” Pastor Sahu was summoned to attend the Purani Basti police station.
Already at the police station upon Pastor Sahu’s arrival were Ankush Bariyekar, general secretary of the Chhattisgarh Christian Forum, and Prakash Masih, MSN said. There were also around 200 Hindu extremists standing outside shouting anti-Christian slogans, Pastor Sahu said.
The mob invaded the police station shouting obscenities, and began to assault the three pastors. Pastors Bariyekar and Masih were in front and were severely beaten, Pastor Sahu said. “I was at the back, so I was relatively safe, and only a few blows landed on me,” he added.
According to MSN, the police only opened a criminal investigation into the attack after a video of the incident went viral on social media. In the event, charges were filed against 10 Hindus; Investigating Officer Nitish Singh Thakur told MSN. According to the Hindustan Times, two of those arrested belong to the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM), the youth wing of the Hindu extremist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
India ranks 10 on the US Watch List of top 50 countries where Christians are persecuted.