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CSW (03/09/06) – CSW recently met with a pastor in Hyderabad , Andhra Pradesh state, who was brutally assaulted by Hindu extremists on 28 February, resulting in his hospitalisation.

The attack on Pastor Lavete Jacob took place during the fourteenth birthday party of a church member. A group of around 15 Hindu extremists entered the family home in which the celebration was taking place, locked the doors and began to beat him with sticks. He sustained a head injury and broken ribs during the assault, which lasted 20 minutes.

Jacob’s wife and daughters, together with the girl celebrating her birthday, were beaten while trying to defend him.

The attackers also tore down Christian posters, took away Bibles and threatened the Christians, saying they should leave the vicinity.

A complaint was lodged with the police, who arrested five men. All were subsequently released on bail.

This attack was not the first which Pastor Jacob had faced. After preaching a sermon during the Hindu festival of Bonalu in 2005, he was accosted by Hindu extremists and warned not to continue preaching. Then, on 18 March 2005, he was returning from a house visit, when he was confronted with a group of around 30 men, 15 of whom beat him with sticks and struck his head with a stone, leaving him unconscious on the road.

Pastor Jacob identified his recent assailants as the same as those who beat him 10 days earlier. He was nevertheless determined to continue working in his church, despite the attack.

Andhra Pradesh saw relatively few attacks against Christians in 2005, despite the murders of pastors K. Daniel and Isaac Raju. However, 2006 has already seen a number of violent atrocities against Christians.

Alexa Papadouris, CSW’s Advocacy Director, said, “We strongly condemn the repeated violence which Pastor Jacob and his family have suffered. We call on the Indian authorities to ensure that all members of this mob, which has carried out a serious of brutal attacks on innocent Christians, be called to justice, in order to restore the faith of the community in their freedom to worship, as guaranteed in the Indian Constitution.”