Latest in a bizarre series of crackdowns on Christianity in the country
A priest has been abducted and beaten by Hindu radicals in India before being arrested by police, the latest in a bizarre series of crackdowns on Christianity in the country.
Mathai Varghese, 57, the pastor of Ebenezer Indian Pentecostal Church in Suratgarh, was captured and attacked in Rajasthan, the northern state on India’s border with Pakistan.
When the police arrived, instead of being helped, the priest was arrested along with his abductors and accused of trying to convert an elderly woman to Christianity.
According to The Express: Christianity watchdog, International Christian Concern (ICC), said the September 4 attack started when the pastor was summoned to a housewarming party.
ICC said: “While at the party, a mob of 100 radicals attacked the pastor and other Christians that had gathered for the party.
“After beating the pastor severely, the radicals forced Pastor Varghese into a vehicle and drove away.
“Pastor Varghese feared that the radicals meant to kill him, but was fortunately saved when police intervened.”
They added: “Despite being the clear victim of an assault, the police arrested Pastor Varghese along with his assailants.
“Pastor Varghese was then forced to spend a night and the next day in jail before receiving proper medical attention.”
Local newspapers published the clash arose because a Hindu group were trying to stop Pastor Varghese from forcibly converting an elderly woman, Rukma Devi Nayak, to Christianity – claims disputed the pastor and ICC.
Mrs. Nayak has reportedly visited the pastor’s church for three years and Mr. Varghese had been attending her housewarming with his wife.
Pastor Varghese told Morning Star News: “I was not at fault, still I was beaten, arrested and charged.”
Rumors of forced conversion were then given more fuel when police gave quotes to local newspapers, which made Christians look like perpetrators and not victims.
Assaults on Christians and their places of worship have risen in current years.
The ICC said: “Growing hostilities by radical groups and the lack of police efforts to stop these groups have been major contributors.”