Three Christians were imprisoned after Hindus attacked them
Three Christians are in jail after hard-line Hindus in northern India last week beat two of them, both pastors, and a Hindu they were comforting in the loss of his family to COVID-19, Morning Star News reports.
Hindu neighbours from the upper-caste Thakur community in Phoolpur, Uttar Pradesh state on Aug. 3 attacked 62-year-old Lalji Vishwakarma and the two pastors, the Hindu said.
“A mob of Hindu extremist neighbours from the Thakur community barged inside the house and falsely accused me and the pastors visiting my house of forced conversions,” Vishwakarma told Morning Star News. “They have no pity that I have been grieving my family’s death.”
Pastor Neel Durai, pastor Vijay Kumar Patel and his wife, Kiran Devi, had come to pray for him and his granddaughters, Vishwakarma said.
No one else was invited to join them in the prayers, he said. His two granddaughters were the only others at the house as the pastors began reading from the Bible and praying for God’s comfort and peace on them, he said.
Initially, a shopkeeper who runs a small grocery store near the house heard them praying, knocked on the door and asked him what was going on inside, he said. Vishwakarma told him they were only praying.
“He peeked inside and saw us holding Bibles in our hands,” Vishwakarma told Morning Star News. “I told him that he should not be mistaken and that we are only praying for peace in our hearts since we lost our family members. But he went and brought the mob of upper-caste neighbours.”
Within a few minutes, about 20 Hindu extremists barged into his home, while others surrounded the house, he said.
“They started shouting, raising their voices to high pitches,” Vishwakarma said. “I tried hard to explain to them that it was a prayer for peace, but they did not pay heed to my words. Soon they started accusing us of forced conversions and started beating the pastors, my grandchildren, and me. I was crying, pleading for them to stop, but they would not hear a word.”
They reviled him in foul language, he said.
“They said, ‘This old fellow has no other work, he is gone after his wife’s death. He now wants to try a new faith,’” Vishwakarma said. “It is not true. My wife and son used to occasionally attend prayers. We heard about Christ but did not renounce any religion or religious practices. We were afraid of the society as we live in a Hindu-dominant area.”
As the assailants continued to beat them, some of them said they should turn the pastors into police and file serious charges against them, he said.
“They had beaten up the pastors badly and also issued threats that they would kill us,” Vishwakarma said. “All this while I was continuously repeating that they have been mistaken and that we were only praying for peace since we lost our family. We are grieving the loss of my wife, son, and daughter-in-law. Should not they be considerate of our suffering?”
He and his grandchildren have also been sick, and had only a few other relatives who could visit them, he added. Neighbours among the assailants had told them the family was cursed and hence dying off from COVID-19.
“After the attack, my grandchildren got too afraid to stay in our house,” he said. “They fled to a relative’s house and have been staying there. I have been all alone since that day.”
Under pressure from villagers, officers at Phoolpur police station arrested Pastor Durai, originally from Tamil Nadu, and Pastor Patel and his wife, and charged them with forcible conversion and other crimes.
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