03/26/2020 India (International Christian Concern) – On March 19, two pastors in northern India were falsely imprisoned for three days after being assaulted by members of a radical Hindu nationalist organization. According to local reports, the attack on the pastors took place after they had shared a Gospel tract with a shopkeeper in Faridpur, located in the Bareilly district of Uttar Pradesh.
On March 19, Pastor Sukhiram Kare and Pastor Rohit Kumar were doing routine outreach activities in the marketplace of Faridpur. At around noon, the pastors spoke was a shopkeeper named Sourab Sharma and gave him a Gospel tract. An hour later, Sharma called the two pastors back to his shop telling them more people were interested to learn about Christianity.
When the pastors returned to Sharma’s shop, they were surrounded by a gang of Bajrang Dal activists.
“We realized that we were in trouble,” Pastor Kare told International Christian Concern (ICC). “Five or six people surrounded us and quizzed us about why we were indulging in conversions and spreading a foreign religion. They were speaking in irate tones.”
“Their tone got louder and they started to hurl abuses at us and manhandled us,” Pastor Kare continued.
The Bajrang Dal activists brought the pastors to the local police station and demanded they be arrested. According to Pastor Kare, they Bajrang Dal activists falsely accused them of defaming Hindu gods. The incident was then reported to the district chief of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), another Hindu nationalist organization.
Due to pressure from both the Bajrang Dal and VHP, police in Faridpur placed Pastor Kare and Pastor Kumar in lock up for three days without filing a First Information Report (FIR). This was done even though there was no evident to support the charges being used to imprison the two pastors.
“I was really worried about my family,” Pastor Kare told ICC. “I wondered how they were going to survive without me around. I was also worried about how long I would be in police lock up.”
This is not the first time Christians in Faridpur have been attacked by radical Hindu nationalists. On March 1, 2020, a Christian house church was attacked by members of the VHP. A Christian couple was reportedly dragged into the street and beaten up as a part of that incident.
Following the attack, local police arrested the Christian couple as well as another church member. They were kept in police lock up for an entire day before being released on bail.
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