Pastor in India Seriously Wounded by Suspected Hindu Extremists
Assailants leave church leader in Andhra Pradesh bleeding, unconscious on village road
09/28/2009 India (CDN) — Suspected Hindu extremists struck a pastor with what appeared to be sharp-edged metal rods on Sept. 20 in Andhra Pradesh state, leaving him unconscious and profusely bleeding on a village road.
At least three unidentified men attacked Pastor Vanamali Parishudham, 35, as he returned from Sunday worship in Yellareddygudam village, five kilometers (nearly three miles) from his home village of Narketpalli , in Nalgonda district. Suspected of being members of the Hindu extremist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the assailants left him for dead in the middle of a road in Yellareddygudam.
Pastor Parishudham told Compass that he was walking alone toward the main road to return home when he was attacked from behind.
“I can recollect three major strikes on the back of my head,” he said. “I felt excruciating pain in my head, and I fell unconscious immediately after the strikes.”
He described the weapons used as “like an iron rod” with a sharp edge. The pastor said he did not see their faces and could not identify them.
Nirmala Desai, deputy nursing superintendent at the Kamineni Institute of Medical Sciences in Narketpalli village, told Compass that Pastor Parishudham sustained “a lot of blood loss” from the head injury. She said someone from the village called an emergency number for an ambulance.
“He was brought to the hospital in time, saving him from excessive blood loss, or else it could have led to becoming fatal,” she said. “The wound was deep, and Parishudham received six stitches on his head. He is still undergoing head scans to trace for internal injuries, if any.”
While Pastor Parishudham said he believed there were only three men who attacked him, police have yet to verify if there were more, Sub-Inspector Jagannath Reddy told Compass.
Desai of the Kamineni Institute, where the pastor was hospitalized, said that the hospital informed police of the attack. A First Information Report has been filed, and Sub-Inspector Reddy told Compass that a case has been registered of causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means.
The sub-inspector added that after police receive a medical certificate from the hospital on the extent of injuries, more serious charges could be added such as attempted murder or causing “grievous” hurt by dangerous weapons or means.
Villagers who visited Pastor Parishudham in the hospital told him that the attackers were members of the Hindu extremist RSS who oppose his preaching and the new prayer house he recently opened in Narketpalli, the pastor told Compass.
Police have yet to make any arrests.
Coincidentally, Pastor Parishudham has worked as a trauma-center technician for the past seven years at the same Kamineni Institute where he was treated. A convert from Hinduism, he became a Christian six years ago and has faced fierce opposition from staunch Hindus, including his parents. His wife Prassana, 32, and their three children ages 13, 8 and 6, worship at the small fellowship he pastors in Narketpalli, with 10 other families.
With 14 incidents of anti-Christian violence recorded from January through August of this year, Andhra Pradesh was second only to Karnataka state in assaults on Christians and Christian institutions, according to advocacy organizations.
Pastor Parishudham spoke of a similar attack on another pastor three years ago in which Hindu extremists threatened to harm the leader if he did not stop preaching; the pastor left the village and never returned.
“I am scared and fear facing more attacks in the future,” Pastor Parishudham said, “but I will continue to preach and go to the prayer house.”