After beating and parading Pastor Raj Singh along with four other Christians in eastern India, Hindu extremists were tonsuring them to further ridicule them when one cut the pastor’s head.
“While shaving my head, the razor cut my skull, and blood oozed out,” Pastor Singh said of the Sept. 16 attack in Jharkhand state. “A man standing nearby pointed out the cut and asked the man shaving my head to be careful, to which he promptly answered back saying, ‘This Christian should be grateful that I am only using the razor on his head and not on his neck.’”
After shaving their heads, the mob tied garlands of old shoes and slippers around their necks and continued parading them from one area of Bherikudar village, in Simdega District, to another. The Hindu extremists told them to chant “Jai Shri Ram [Victory to god Ram]” and, when the Christians did not comply, beat them with wooden sticks, he said.
“Some of us chanted, to escape the beating from time to time,” Pastor Singh said. “Whoever did not chant was immediately beaten by sticks. They also had long wooden handles of large iron picks with which they hit us.”
Accusing them of eating and smuggling beef in the Hindu-majority country where both activities are illegal, the mob of 60 to 70 people had initially attacked seven Christians in the village, but two managed to escape, he said.
The 37-year-old pastor was sitting in his courtyard at 6 a.m. when the Hindu extremists entered from all directions and asked if he had converted from Hinduism to Christianity, he said. While the other six men targeted that day had converted from native tribal religion, the pastor had previously been a Hindu. Upon confirming his conversion, the mob used obscene language as they accused him of being a traitor.
“They said, ‘You have defamed the Hindu name by becoming Christian,’” Pastor Singh said. “While they were criticizing and cursing me in foul language, one of them said to another, ‘Why are you speaking so much – drag him out and chop him to pieces.’”
They dragged the pastor out and began assaulting him while chanting Hindu slogans, he said.
“They pounced on me from every direction and beat me up with their hands, feet and wooden sticks,” he said. “My wife Roseline tried to stop the attackers from hitting me, but in the process, she was beaten and molested by the mob. She was also hit on her back and sustained internal injury.”
When his brother-in-law, Deepak Kullu, returned from a store, he was shocked to see the crowd, and before he learned what was happening, the mob began beating him. They then entered the houses of other Christians, dragging out the male members and assaulting them.
Singh told Morning Star News the attack was evidently well-planned, as the assailants knew their names and where they lived.
When his wife asked the assailants to call the police if they had any grievances against the Christians, one of them responded, “We are the law, and we will do what we have been told,” Pastor Singh said.
“They told my wife that they had been instructed to kill me,” he said.
When she asked them who instructed them, the assailants told them the names of two district leaders of the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), the pastor said.
The other six Christians beaten were Kullu, 26; Emmanuel Tete, 28; Sosan Dang, 28; Sugadh Dang, 26; and the two who later escaped, Sulin Barla and Sem Kido.
Believers in India—number 10 on the 2020 World Watch List—are often shunned, unjustly arrested, attacked—even killed—because they choose to follow Jesus and not Hinduism or the local religion. Our Indian family needs the prayers of the global church to stand strong in the midst of persecution—and to remain a light for Christ in the world’s second-most populated country.
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