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10/22/2018 India (International Christian Concern) – On September 4, Pastor Mathai Varghese, the 57-year-old pastor of Ebenezer Indian Pentecostal Church in Suratgarh, was abducted and beaten by a mob of Hindu radicals in India’s Rajasthan state. When police finally intervened, the pastor was arrested along with the assailants and was falsely accused of taking part in a communal clash and attempting to forcefully convert an old woman.

On the day of the attack, Pastor Varghese was invited to attend a house-warming party for Rukma Devi Nayak. While at the party, a mob of 100 radicals attacked the pastor and other Christians that had gathered for the party. After beating the pastor severely, the radicals forced Pastor Varghese into a vehicle and drove away.

Pastor Varghese feared that the radicals meant to kill him, but was fortunately saved when police intervened. Despite being the clear victim of an assault, the police arrested Pastor Varghese along with his assailants. Pastor Varghese was then forced to spend a night and the next day in jail before receiving proper medical attention.

Following the attack, local newspapers reported the attack as a communal clash between Christians and Hindus which arose because the Hindus were attempting to stop Pastor Varghese from forcefully converting Nayak to Christianity. Unfortunately, a police officer gave a quote as a part of these stories making the Christians look like perpetrators and not victims.

Attacks on Christians and their places of worship have skyrocketed in recent years. Growing hostilities by radical groups and the lack of police efforts to stop these groups have been major contributors. In 2014, the Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI) recorded only 147 incidents of Christian persecution. In 2017, EFI recorded 351 incidents.

For interviews with William Stark, ICC’s Regional Manager, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: [email protected].