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03/10/2020 India (International Christian Concern) – A pastor in India’s Karnataka state was hospitalized after enduring a brutal assault by more than 150 radical Hindu nationalists. According to local sources, attacks on pastors have dramatically increased in recent weeks due to police inaction.

On Sunday, March 1, Pastor Manju Keralli was leading a worship service in Bennakoop village, located in the Gadag district of Karnataka. Suddenly, a mob of radical Hindu nationalists wearing t-shirts that said “Jai Sri Ram” broke into the service.

According to Pastor Keralli, the radicals hurled abusive language at the Christians, physically assaulted those present, and destroyed the church’s instruments and furniture.

I fell to the ground after receiving several punches and kicks,” Pastor Keralli told International Christian Concern (ICC). “Then, they dragged me out of the meeting hall, tied me to a tree outside, and further released blows and punches. They took me to two other places in the same village and tied me to an electrical pole and a pillar in the marketplace. All the time they continued their physical harassment for more than three hours.

Later, police arrived and took me to the police station,” Pastor Keralli continued. “Even the police threatened me with foul language, saying that I don’t have right to live in this country as I am practicing foreign faith.

At the station, the police then filed a criminal case against Pastor Keralli under India’s blasphemy law (IPC Section 295). However, the police failed to file a criminal case against the radicals that broke into the church and assailed the Christians.  

I am unable to sit, as there is an injury on my back,” Pastor Keralli told ICC. “Doctors are suspecting that there could be fracture on my spine. I have severe pain in my lower abdomen and have difficulty breathing.”

In addition to all these things, there is a legal case filed against me that I am involved in illegal conversions,” Pastor Keralli said exasperated.

Recently, there have been five attacks on pastors in Gadag district alone,” a local Christian leader, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told ICC. “Across the entire state, the number of incidents have grown sharply because of the complicity of the police and the free hand given to Hindu radicals. This will make it even more difficult for Christians in the state.

After receiving initial medical attention, Pastor Keralli fled the Gadag district fearing arrest. Currently, he remains hidden and is seeking anticipatory bail for the false blasphemy charges that have been filed against him.

For interviews, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: [email protected].