Many Hindus believe that conversion to Christianity is an attack on their culture and way of life, and an imminent threat to both, despite the fact that Christianity has been a presence in India since the days of St. Thomas the Apostle. Instances such as those described below are the result.
For previous ChristianPersecution.com coverage of the persecution of Christians in India, see here.
“Police in India Assault, Charge Pastor for Family Devotional,” Morning Star News, June 17, 2022:
NEW DELHI (Morning Star News) – Nearly two months after police arrested a pastor in India from his grandmother’s home, tied him to a tree and beat him, threats from officers and others have kept him from filing a complaint on the brutality, sources said.
Pastor Pravesh Kumar of Amamahua, Uttar Pradesh state was visiting a sick uncle at his grandmother’s house in nearby Bhais Khur village on April 22 when police arrested him after a Hindu neighbor videotaped them singing during a family devotional on the roof, he said.
The neighbor had sent the video clip to police after recording it from the adjoining rooftop, Pastor Kumar said. Officers immediately arrived and questioned him about the purpose of the visit and about their singing.
When he explained that they were singing hymns, police told him they were arresting him on suspicion of forcible conversion because hymns were part of converting people, he said.
“They completely ignored the fact that the family we were visiting were all followers of Christ,” Pastor Kumar said.
Officers took the 26-year-old pastor to Bijauli police outpost at about 8 p.m., tied him face forward to a tree and physically assaulted him as they reviled him in coarse language, he said.
“I was beaten so brutally on my legs that they swelled up, and I was not able to walk,” Pastor Kumar told Morning Star News. “I was limping.”
His 55-year-old uncle arrived, noticed he was limping and entreated the policemen to stop the assault, he said. The officers demanded 20,000 to 25,000 rupees (US$256 to US$320) to release them, and because Pastor Kumar told them he had no money and had committed no crime, they said they would send him to the Bardah police station, he said.
Pastor Kumar and his uncle were transported to the Bardah police station, where an officer asked about his limp and scolded the officers for hitting him on body parts that bore readily visible marks.
The officer demanded a leather strap and told the junior policemen, “I will show you what body parts you should target while assaulting a person,” and then lashed the pastor 30 to 40 times and also beat his uncle, Pastor Kumar said.
As he struck Pastor Kumar, the officer demanded that he shout slogans hailing Hindu gods and goddesses: “Jai! Sri Ram [Hail! lord Ram]!” and, “Jai! Durga Ki [Hail! Durga],” and as he refused, he was further beaten.
When one of the junior policemen asked the officer if they should let Pastor Kumar’s uncle go, he refused, saying they would fabricate a report that the pastor and his uncle had fought each other. He ordered the officers to beat Pastor Kumar’s uncle.
Word spread of them being beaten in custody, and Christian leaders from Uttar Pradesh and Delhi called police to inquire about the arrest.
“When my well-wishers and concerned Christians called the police station, the officer came and told me that he received a call and beat me all the more, accusing me of having a ‘big group’ of supporters,” Pastor Kumar told Morning Star News.
As the officers kicked and struck Pastor Kumar and his uncle with police batons and a leather strap, the police continued to revile them with coarse language, he said.
The two Christians sustained several internal and external injuries. Pastor Kumar was beaten on all major joints, including the wrists and knees, with a ruptured nerve on a wrist that turned black, he said.
Police registered a complaint against them under the Indian Penal Code for “five or more assembling and disturbing public peace,” “abetment” and “abetting commission of offense.” They appeared before the Sub-Divisional Magistrate court in Lalganj, Azamgarh District after a medical exam, and the evening of next day they were released on bail.
Pastor Kumar was still taking pain medication two weeks after his release, he said.
Morning Star News refrained from calling police for comment as it could exacerbate mistreatment of the Christians, though Pastor Kumar gave permission to report on the case.
On the day of their arrest, Dinanath Jaiswar, a human rights activist and Christian leader in Uttar Pradesh, reached the police station along with other church leaders at about midnight. Jaiswar told Morning Star News that he was utterly shaken when he saw Kumar’s condition.
“He was brutally beaten in custody,” Jaiswar said. “I had tears in my eyes when I met him in the police station.”
A religious rights activist from Delhi who requested anonymity said that when he called the officer in-charge of the Bardah police station that same night, the chief refused to talk.
“The moment I spoke about Pastor Pravesh’s detention, he cut my phone and then stopped answering my calls,” the activist said.
Another Christian leader speaking on condition of anonymity said that he went to the police station the same night and asked police why were they torturing Kumar, a charge they roundly denied.
“It was so heart-breaking to see Pastor Pravesh,” the leader said. “We felt so helpless. We panicked as to whom should we approach for protection, when the ‘protectors’ themselves have become assaulters.”….