Pastors Attacked, Missionary "Kidnapped" in India, Investigators Say

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

By BosNewsLife News Center with BosNewsLife's Stefan J. Bos

NEW DELHI, INDIA (BosNewsLife) -- A pastor who was beaten by suspected Hindu militants and prevented from holding church services by local police was to face a court in the Indian state of Karnataka Tuesday, June 19, in a case that underscored growing concern about attacks against church leaders and missionaries.

The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), a major advocacy group, said Pastor P. Paul Samuel of the town of Sirsi had been "target twice" in recent days by militants and police because of his Christian work in the area.

Last Sunday, June 17, he was prevented from conducting a Sunday worship after the building owner withdrew his permission under pressure from local police, GCIC said. A week earlier, Sunday, June 10, "he was beaten up by" militants, according to GCIC investigators.

Tuesday's court hearing was to determine who violated local laws and expected to be closely watched by other reportedly persecuted Christians in Karnataka and other states of India, including the lynched Pastor Laxmi Narayana.

The 35-year-old independent pastor was still recovering Tuesday, June 19, from the attack in the city of Hesargetta, about 30 kilometers (19 miles) from Bangalore, Karnataka's capital, said the well-informed Christian rights group All India Christian Council (AICC).


Narayana, a married father with two children, was cornered June 8 by an angry Hindu crowd of up to 1,000 people who stripped him naked and hung a board around his neck saying "I am the one who was converting people," before parading him through the area for one hour, the AICC added in a statement monitored by BosNewsLife.

Before undressing him, someone reportedly poured kerosene on the pastor and threw a burning Bible at him. AICC officials who interviewed the injured Laxmi in the local Baptist Hospital quoted the pastor as saying that God protected him. "I still do not know why I did not catch on fire even though I was drenched with Kerosene," the pastor reportedly told them.

Police intervened "after the whole drama was over" and only because a relative had called them, AICC investigators said. However the pastor said in published remarks he would continue preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. "Nothing can stop me. I have a long way to go and I will continue to do this noble work of ministry," the AICC quoted him as saying.

The attacks against the pastors came amid concerns Tuesday, June 19, about other Christians workers elsewhere in India, such as in the state of Tamil Nadu where missionary J. Charles Simon has been missing since the evening of June 9, the GCIC group said.


The 35-year-old men was kidnapped near the local Pentecostal Church by four unknown militants after visiting a friend, his wife, C. Sudha was quoted as telling local police. However police only started an investigation three days later when a local schoolgirl living near the church in the town of Pudur, said she had "heard the cries of a man," according to GCIC investigators.

The reported kidnapping came shortly after two other Christian workers were reportedly killed in the state of Uttar Pradesh by suspected militants opposing their mission. The GCIC and other rights watchers said Samuel Masih and his staff member Aman Singh "were brutally killed" June 2 week in the village of Awagarh, BosNewsLife reported earlier.

Human rights group the Voice Of the Martyrs (VOM) said a local coordinator in India was also attacked June 8 at his home by Hindu extremists. The man, who was only identified as Brother N for security reasons had cuts and bruises and was nearly unconscious when taken away to the police station and hospital, VOM quoted local Christians as saying.

Other pastors in India have reported similar attacks, BosNewsLife monitored. Although Christians comprise less than three percent of India's mainly Hindu population of about 1.1 billion people, radical groups have expressed concerns about the spread of Christianity in especially rural areas and among 'dalits' seen as the lowest caste in India's ancient system of Hinduism.

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