Hindu extremists attack Indian pastor who prayed for church member's healing

A group of Hindu extremists in India assaulted a Christian pastor for praying for a sick church member, and his family says the police altered his statement to make it appear that drunken men attacked him.

(REUTERS / Krishnendu Halder)Security personnel stand guard in front of SKS Microfinance's head office in Hyderabad November 25, 2010.

In an interview with Morning Star News, Samuel Mark said his father, Rev. Gandham Padma Rao was just leaving the home of the sick church member when a Hindu extremist gang blocked his path using their motorcycles. The pastor tried to ignore them but they started hitting him while demanding to know why he was praying in the village.

According to eyewitnesses, the young men who attacked him were Hindu nationalists. He said the gang warned him not to come back to the place to pray.

Two of the young Hindus held Pastor Rao while the others beat him up. He fell in a nearby pit but the assailants picked him up, threw him on the road, and started attacking him again. One of the men even attempted to throw a large stone at him but people began emerging from their homes when they heard him cry out.

"They spoke to me in vulgar language: 'You must never come to our village to pray. You should never enter our village,'" Rev. Rao told Morning Star.

In the pastor's statement to the police, he indicated that the young men who attacked him are members of a Hindu nationalist group. However, his son told Morning Star that police changed Rev. Rao's statement to describe the assailants as merely "drunken youths."

In a separate incident on Jan. 21, an Indian Christian slipped into a coma due to brain hemorrhage after a police interrogation. K.A. Swamy went to the police station in the morning to be questioned over complaints that he had distributed Christian literature in Hyderabad, the World Watch Monitor reports.

Police released Swamy after six hours, but he collapsed on his way home because of a brain hemorrhage. According to his wife Sujatha, the government promised to pay for his medical bills, but there is still no change in his condition.

Swamy's brother-in-law told WWM that it was not the first time that Hindu extremists threatened him after catching him distributing Christian literature. However, the latest incident apparently was too much for him, and it led to his comatose state.