India: Hindu Extremists Beat Four Pastors

Thursday, January 11, 2007

MUMBAI, India (Compass Direct News) -- Seven youths beat Pastor Robert Kennedy of Bangalore in Karnataka state on Sunday (January 7), after asking him to “pray for a sick friend.” The pastor required 16 stitches to his head and back after the assault.

In neighboring Andhra Pradesh state, Hindu extremists beat two pastors on January 6 and 7, and another on December 28, after warning them to cease Christian activities in their villages.

Pastor Kennedy and the small congregation of Jesus Preeti Church had gathered for worship for about and hour on Sunday morning when seven young men entered the house church and sat down. They talked among themselves, and one of them made calls on his mobile phone as Kennedy preached.

At about 12:30 p.m., when the service had ended and the believers had left, the youths approached Kennedy and asked him to accompany them to the home of a sick friend who needed prayer.

Since the house was supposedly nearby, Kennedy asked some of the young men to bring the patient to the church for prayer.

As three in the group made their way towards the front door, the others turned on the pastor and beat him severely.

“Suddenly all four attacked me, slapping my face, back and chest,” Kennedy told Compass. “One of them grabbed the microphone stand and struck me across the back, causing a deep gash, and blood began flowing out.”

The three who had not yet left the church came back and slapped the pastor, who had fallen to the floor. They then struck him with the circular base of the microphone stand, causing severe bleeding.

“They said to me, ‘You were telling everyone that Christ shed his blood – now you do the same,’” Kennedy added.

The youths also beat a church member identified only as Rajendran, who by chance returned to the church.

Kennedy believed his assailants were members of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) or some other Hindu extremist group, since “they were mocking the teachings of Christ.”

Ten minutes after the assault began, the youths left. Rajendran called for assistance from other church members and Kennedy was taken to a nearby clinic, where he received 13 stitches to his back and three stitches to his head.

Kennedy later filed an official complaint at the Rajgopal police station. At press time no arrests had been made.

Assaults in Andhra Pradesh

Also on Sunday (January 7), Hindu extremists at about 8:30 p.m. severely beat Pastor Narsimullu Jacob of Vanasthalipuran village, Telangana region of Andhra Pradesh state.

The extremists had warned Narsimullu that morning to cease holding worship services and conducting evangelism in the area.

A day earlier, 34-year-old Pastor Malaiya Gabriel was returning home from a weekly catechism class when a group of nine men approached him and warned him to stop indoctrinating the village children with stories about Christ.

Gabriel, who converted from Hinduism two years ago, lives in Shivalingam village in Nizamabad district.

Lionel Francis, coordinator of the Global Council of Indian Christians, said the men threatened Gabriel with dire consequences if he continued his missionary activities.

That evening (January 6), at around 8:30 p.m., Pastor Gabriel was returning from a visit to another Christian’s home when a mob of around 50 people thrashed him with wooden clubs and batons. “They threatened to kill him if he did not stop evangelizing,” Francis said.

Gabriel was taken to a hospital for treatment.

“There is a worrying pattern of behavior in the activities of the RSS in Telangana,” Francis told Compass. “First they issue a warning, and later the mob attacks.”

On December 28, Hindu extremists beat Pastor Pawan Kumar, an independent pastor ministering near Bodhan, Telangana. The extremists entered the home of local believer Issac Raju and beat some 14 Christians, burning their Bibles and sound system.

Extremists had warned Pawan earlier that day to cease his Christian activities.

“The RSS and the Bajrang Dal have become much bolder in their attacks on Christians in Telengana,” Francis said. “Even though we have filed complaints, no arrests have been made in relation to these attacks.”

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