Brandishing hockey sticks and a gun that was fired on house-church grounds, masked Hindu extremists assaulted Christians in Uttar Pradesh, India.
After [a July 2] assault that terrorized families and sent nine of about 50 injured Christians to the hospital for treatment, influential Hindus pressured police to file charges against the Christians, the church pastor said.
A partially blind girl identified as 12-year-old Rishu was severely beaten with sticks on her back, hands, legs and elsewhere on her body at the worship site in Raikashipur, Pratapgarh District, where about 100 Christians had gathered, pastor Ram Kumar Gautam told Morning Star News. The 50 people not injured managed to flee for their lives, he said.
A 10-year-old boy sustained a head injury that required seven stiches, Pastor Gautam said. He added that more of the injured church members would have obtained hospital treatment but were afraid of further violence.
“Dreading being attacked again, they did not accompany us for the medical tests, neither did they take their children to the hospital for proper medical examinations,” the pastor told Morning Star News.
He said he was especially concerned about untreated injuries to other children.
“The way they have relentlessly beaten the believers made me so angry that I wanted to retaliate, but then when I look at God, all my anger goes away,” Pastor Gautam told Morning Star News. “I and my wife were able to escape the attack so did not get hurt, but the others have not only sustained external injuries, besides internal injuries, but have also been mentally traumatized.”
“They did not spare children as young as 7 years old and beat senior men and women alike,” the pastor said.
The assailants, he said, were members of the Hindu extremist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), accompanied by a few villagers.
“I have been worshipping in my house every Sunday and Monday for the past three years,” he said. “Gatherings vary, as the past two years 50 to 100 members attend. The villagers have never had problems in the past, and I have a very friendly bond with them.”
Pastor Gautam said the church has grown even though they do not go out to preach.
“We do not do any kind of evangelism or conversion – people bring their sick, we pray for them and they are healed,” he said. “Some continue to come, others choose to stop coming after receiving healing.”