By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent, Worthy News
NEW DELHI (Worthy News) - A pastor in northern India is recovering from injuries after he was allegedly detained and tortured by police on false charges of converting people to faith in Christ.
In published remarks, the church leader said he was detained on April 16 in India’s state of Uttar Pradesh while visiting his family accompanied by relatives in the village of Anamouh Anam.
As part of their program, they all joined together in what Christians called “a time of singing praises to God and prayer.”
However, police were reportedly notified of the gathering by a neighbor who claimed they were converting non-Christians
After authorities accused the pastor of “illegal conversion,” he and his uncle were taken to the local police station, where they faced torture, Christians said. "They beat us as we got into the police van,” added the pastor, whose name wasn’t identified amid apparent security concerns. “The police took turns to torture us physically,” he said.
The two believers were allegedly held in custody and tortured for nearly 24 hours before being released. I could not walk out of the police station," the pastor said in comments shared with Worthy News. "My two legs were swollen badly, and there was so much pain that I could not move from one place to the other."
Christians said they were praying “for the healing of these two injured believers” and “the church in India” facing “extreme persecution.”
Police did not immediately comment on the reported incident, but the case underscored broader concerns about attacks against minority Christians in Hindu-ruled India.
The attack against the pastor came after Pastor Rakesh Babu and his wife were attacked in Uttar Pradesh state’s Vyaspur village in Chandauli District, Christians said.
He was about to go to bed one night earlier this year when eight Hindu extremists broke into his house, beat and choked him, and slit his wife’s throat, he said.
The eight assailants, including two women, had accused the 51-year-old pastor of luring people to convert to Christianity. After throwing him to the floor and beating him and his brother, 30, with wooden sticks, one of them began to choke him while the others shouted to kill him, he said.
“I did not see if they were carrying a knife, but the object used for slitting my wife’s throat was sharp, and from the deep wound, it appears to be a knife,” Pastor Babu said in published remarks. Pastor Babu told Morning Star News agency that the “moment they slit my wife’s throat with the sharp object, she fell unconscious.”
His wife survived, but a lack of timely medical attention meant she still suffers from her injuries, the pastor recalled.
Although four suspects were identified in the January attack, police show little interest in prosecuting them for serious mistreatment charges, Christians said.
India ranks 10th on the annual World Watch List of 50 nations where advocacy group Open Doors says it is most challenging to be a devoted Christian.
“The persecution of Christians in India intensifies as Hindu extremists aim to cleanse the country of their presence and influence,” Open Doors warned in a recent assessment.
Christians comprise nearly 5 percent of India’s roughly 1.4 billion people, who are mainly Hindu, according to Open Doors estimates.