NEW DELHI (Morning Star News) – Police in Chhattisgarh state last week chastised and threatened a pastor when he reported that Hindu extremists beat a Bible student unconscious, area Christians said.
After drunken Hindu extremists beat 23-year-old Shyam Sunder unconscious with a plow head three times – twice reviving him with water and continuing the beating – on Wednesday (Oct. 9) in Milan Patra, Koriya District, Christian leaders called the town inspector. The police officer who reached the spot asked Pastor Arun Toppo why they had alerted police when nobody had been murdered or killed, Christian leaders said.
Pastor Toppo then went to Manandra Garh police station seeking help, but there Town Inspector M.S. Khan and other police verbally abused him, threatened to register a case against him and ordered him to stop leading worship if Hindu villagers did not like it, the pastor’s attorney said.
“The police on duty made Toppo sign a paper that he will not file a police complaint against the attackers,” attorney Sunjeevan Lal told Morning Star News.
Pastor Toppo, however, said he sought further help.
“When I reached home and found Sunder in a crucial condition, I knew that I had to approach higher officials for protection,” he said. “The wound on his lower back is the most severe, and for that reason he could not walk. We took him to the area government hospital, but the hospital authority refused to admit him unless they get permission from the area police. We are treating him with some home remedies available to us.”
Town Inspector Khan denied the accusations against him.
“Some two or three people were asking Pastor Toppo money for the Hindu festival, he refused to give it, and both of them just had a small fight,” Khan told Morning Star News, adding that neither party has submitted a complaint.
On Thursday (Oct. 10), with the help of Christian leaders, Pastor Toppo filed a complaint with the Baikhundpur Superintendent of Police. A First Information Report was registered against the attackers, but at press time no arrests had been made.
The assailants had earlier threatened to kill Pastor Toppo if he continued to lead worship in the area.
The Bible student, Sunder, had aroused the Hindu extremists’ ire when he tried to protect Pastor Toppo from the attack on Wednesday (Oct. 9). At about 2 p.m., Hindu extremists disrupted the prayer meeting of Pastor Toppo’s Independent Pentecostal Church and summoned him, reported area pastor Jagdish Sahu.
Church members stood around Pastor Toppo to defend him, and Sunder told the extremists to leave and not disturb them again. The angry extremists then dragged Sunder to a field of crops and beat him up with thorny sticks.
“The extremists asked me, ‘What is there in your Christ? Ask Him to save you now,’ and then they threatened to kill me if I do not utter, ‘Praise lord Ram and Durga,’” Sunder told Morning Star News.
Sunder refused to renounce Christ, and the Hindu extremists took him to a house and struck him with the plow head, knocking him unconscious. The Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI) reported that they splashed water on him to revive him, poured alcohol into his mouth and onto his body, tore his clothes and beat him again till he fell unconscious, repeating the process a third time as well.
The extremists left Sunder semi-conscious on a road at about 5 p.m.
“He suffered a severe wound on the lower part of his back, a deep cut on his head, and he was not able to hear with his right ear,” attorney Sahu said. “He sustained bruises all over his body, and he was beaten black and blue all over his chest.”
Sunder converted to Christianity three years ago.
Only two weeks earlier in the same state in Dhanora, Kondagoan District, Hindu extremists beat two Christians, destroyed their household goods, locked their houses and chased them out from the village.
“The extremists have threatened to harm two brothers, Mankuram Singh and Mankumar Singh, several times in the past ever since they accepted Christ three years back,” attorney Sonsingh Jhali said.
The extremists on Sept. 22 had summoned the two brothers and their wives, along with the 2-year-old daughter of one of the couples, to the village temple and tried to force them to renounce Christ. The extremists beat the two men after they refused and later marched them up a road as they continued to beat and harass them, reported EFI.
“In the meantime, Christians in the neighboring village managed to hide the child and the two Christian women,” Jhali said.
The extremists vandalized the Christians’ homes, damaging all household items. Their furniture, cookware and grains were destroyed.
“The extremists have locked up their houses and chased them out from the village, telling them never to come back until they decide to reconvert back into Hinduism,” Jhali said.
Christian leaders submitted a police complaint, but officers have not registered a case against the attackers, and the extremists are threatening to harm the Christians if they do not withdraw their complaint, reported EFI.
The same assailants are threatening to harm Christians who are providing shelter to the Christian families in a neighboring village, Jhali said.
c. 2013 Morning Star News. Used with permission.
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Publication date: October 16, 2013