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Villagers in India Demolish House of Pastor, then Accuse Him of Rape

New Delhi , September 14 (ICC) – Local villagers on September 8 demolished the house of a pastor in Phulbani district of Orissa state. After he filed a police complaint, he was charged with the rape of a middle-aged woman and arrested on September 11.

Jose Sam, a leader of the All India Christian Council (AICC), told ICC that Pastor Karnel Nayak, who founded a church in Phulbani district’s Manikeswari area near Raikia, was seemingly a victim of false accusations made by a divisive group of his own church and the tactics of Hindu fundamentalists, who took advantage of the division in the church.

The complainant, said a local Christian source, is not the so-called victim, but one Angad Naik, who had left the church some time ago and joined another church. Naik also led about half of the church members to leave the church with him.

“In fact, we have heard that Naik has now ‘reconverted’ to Hinduism.”

The woman, who had earlier alleged that she was raped, has now given a statement to the police that she was given money by Naik for levying charges against Nayak. The medical report has also confirmed that she was not raped.

“Besides, the complaint was lodged against Nayak after he lodged a complaint against those who demolished him house,” he added.

The woman is from a nominal Christian family.

Sam explained that Swami Lakshananda Saraswati, the cleric, had allegedly led several ‘reconversion’ ceremonies in the region which indicates that foul play was possible. Seemingly, Naik, who wanted Nayak to move away from the village so that he could get all the church members, connived with Hindu fundamentalists to implicate him in a false case, he added.

Superintendent of Police Vasant Kumar Sahu, however, told ICC: “This is not because of Christianity or any other religion. Nayak confessed in a written statement before a village committee that he had raped his own aunt-in-law on September 1. The committee only has Christians, as this is a predominantly Christian village.”

Sahu said Nayak had promised to the committee that he would move out of the village and that when did not do so, the villagers got angry and demolished his house. “They just broke the roof of his house,” he added.

The police official also said the villagers were so angry that had he not arrested Nayak they would have killed him.

The Christian source, however, said that Nayak was forced to give a written statement and that the village committee had Hindu families as well. He also said that Nayak had been warned on several occasions by Naik, who allegedly wanted to take over the church.

Police had allegedly arrested 19 people in connection with the demolition of Nayak’s house, but all of them were seemingly released on bail. The bail of Nayak was still awaited at press time.