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Pastor attacked and Christians threatened by extremists in India

South Asia

Pastor attacked and Christians threatened by extremists in India

Extremists attacked a church pastor and threatened a group of worshippers in Uttar Pradesh, India, after they tried to formalise their status as Christians.

Mr Prakash, who was injured in the attack, was arrested, “to prevent the commission of offences.”  A bail hearing due to be held on 20 June was deferred, “owing to the volatile atmosphere in the region.”

On 18 June, Dipender Prakash and several members of his congregation attended court in Sardhana to have their written testimonies notarised. But extremists from the Bajrang Dal Hindu nationalist group arrived in large numbers and physically assaulted him.

Leaders of the militant Hindu group later threatened to visit the families of the new Christians to prevent them continuing in their chosen faith. One of the Christians said, “I have seen miracles and so have started believing in Christ. It’s my personal choice. Why are they hounding me? I should be allowed to live in peace.”

At least 11 members of the church had signed affidavits confirming they willingly became Christians. Signing official statements is a common practice in India where strict “anti-conversion” laws apply in several states.

Nirmal Jacob, pastor-in-charge of the church where Mr Prakash ministers, said: “Moving from one religion to another is a matter of personal choice and the law of the land allows that.”