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ICC Note:

A Christian pastor in Rajasthan, India endured a severe beating at the hands of Hindu radicals earlier this month as attacks on Christian and their places of worship continue to skyrocket. According to Morning Star News, the Hindu radicals beat the pastor and several other worshipers while attending a service on August 16. In 2016, Open Doors USA recorded 441 attacks on Christians and their places of worship across India. In just the first six months of 2017, Open Doors USA has already recorded 410 attacks. Will this escalation in anti-Christian violence continue? 

09/01/2017 India (Morning Star News) – A band of Hindu extremists who had snuck into a house-church service beat a pastor with steel rods and sticks, one of them yelling that they would stop if he shouted, “Hail, Lord Ram [Jai Sri Ram]!”

“I remained mum,” pastor Harjot Singh Sethi, 26, told Morning Star News. “I did not even squeal from pain. My mouth was shut as they beat me.”

He suffered serious head and leg injuries in the Aug. 16 attack in Dabli Rathan village, Hanumangarh District, in Rajasthan state.

“I am glad the Lord considered me worthy to share His pain,” he said. “I don’t have to be treated special or elevated because I am persecuted. My Lord was crucified, His disciples were persecuted, and violence against Christ-followers is not a new thing. This was to come.”

The young pastor and eight other Christians were attacked on the terrace of the home of Madan Lal Arora, where 20 people had gathered for worship. Police Station House Officer Jagdish Prasad said the assailants were members of the Hindu extremist group Bajrang Dal.

“While the pastor and the Christians were praying, Bajrang Dal activists accused them of [forced] conversions and started beating them,” Prasad told Morning Star News. “We were able to detain six of the accused, and the investigation is on.”

Pastor Sethi, of Jalandar District in Punjab state, was visiting Arora, a schoolteacher in Rajasthan.

“It was first planned that we would conduct the prayers in our house, but by evening believers from other villagers had already arrived, so we left the entrance gate open for any more to join us,” Arora’s daughter, Shikha Arora, told Morning Star News. “It was just 40 minutes into worship. I sang hymns with my friends standing in front of the gathering, and I noticed two men seated right before me. I did not know they came to attack. They sat quietly when we were singing.”

Pastor Sethi had risen to speak and was bowed in prayer when two men pushed through the congregation of 20 and attacked him, she said.

“When the two started beating the pastor, their group waiting outside the house also got upstairs, and they brought steel rods and wooden sticks,” Shikha Arora said. “We pleaded with them, ‘Please don’t beat our pastor. What did he do? What did we do to you people? Did he speak against any leader or any religion? Why are you beating him?’ They beat us too.”

The pastor told Morning Star News he couldn’t understand where the 10 people who began beating him had come from.

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