International Christian Concern | August 26, 2020
On August 21, Pastor Prasanna Kumar, whose name has been changed for security reasons, was attacked and brutally beaten by radical Hindu nationalists in Uttar Pradesh, India. The radicals reportedly accused Pastor Kumar of forcefully converting Hindus to Christianity and used this accusation as a justification for their assault.
“The attack seemed well planned,” Pastor Kumar told International Christian Concern (ICC) in an interview. “I thought they were going to kill me.”
According to Pastor Kumar, the radicals attacked while he was returning home from a prayer meeting in Bikampur village, located in the Bareilly district of Uttar Pradesh. A mob of 10 fanatics, led by a man named Aklesh Gangyar, surrounded Pastor Kumar and pulled him from his motorbike.
Once on the ground, the radicals began to beat Pastor Kumar with wooden clubs.
“They yelled at me and accused me of converting people to the Christian faith,” Pastor Kumar told ICC. “They said that I give money to people to make them convert to Christianity.”
“I tried to talk to them, but they would not allow me to say anything,” Pastor Kumar continued. “I was bleeding from my head and was kicked around like a football.”
The attack on Pastor Kumar became so savage that he soon began to think the radicals would murder him.
“God gave me the grace to accept even death,” Pastor Kumar told ICC. “Scriptures were running through my mind as I was being attacked. However, when I thought about my four-year-old daughter and my wife, I was shattered, and it was excruciating.”
The attack lasted nearly two hours. When the radicals finished beating Pastor Kumar, they told him that they would kill him if they saw him in Bikampur village again. As the radicals left, they stole Pastor Kumar’s motorbike and his mobile phone.
Members of Pastor Kumar’s congregation in Bikampur village soon discovered the injured pastor and helped him go to the local police station to report the attack. However, local police refused to file Pastor Kumar’s complaint and accused him of attempting to register a false report. Pastor Kumar’s complaint wasn’t accepted until three days later, after a church leader from outside Bareilly district called the police station and advocated on Pastor Kumar’s behalf.
“I counted the costs of serving God when I came here,” Pastor Kumar told ICC. Age 32, Pastor Kumar has been serving as a church planter in the Bareilly district for nearly four and a half years. Bikampur village is one of the communities where Pastor Kumar has planted a small church. In Bakampur, Pastor Kumar leads a small congregation of four people who regularly attend worship.
“I have made sure that my wife understands what it means to serve God in these difficult places,” Pastor Kumar explained. “A number of pastors in my region have been attacked, and some have even given up their lives for the sake of the Gospel. I don’t mind suffering for the sake of the Gospel.”
To date, the police have not taken any action against the radicals Pastor Kumar named in his complaint. The police have also not recovered Pastor Kumar’s mobile phone or his motorbike.
Unfortunately, the impunity enjoyed by Pastor Kumar’s attackers is not uncommon. Across India, radical Hindu nationalists go unpunished for their crimes against religious minorities. This impunity only emboldens the radicals, whose attacks have become more severe and frequent.