A Pentecostal pastor in India's Bihar state has lost his hearing after he was attacked by rod-wielding Hindu extremists outside his home, according to local sources.
Speaking to Morning Star News, Pastor Arun Kumar said Pastor Sikandar Kumar was inside his home in Jadhua village in Eastern India when a young boy knocked on the door and told him that some men wanted to meet him outside. Arun, who now leads the victim's church, said Sikandar was attacked by 15 men the moment he stepped out the door.
"When the pastor stepped out, 15 men started beating him and accused him of conversions in the village," Arun told Morning Star. "They badgered his head with iron swords and sticks. Pastor Sikandar fell down unconscious; he had a deep injury on his head. He was bleeding severely."
Arun also said the attackers were shouting "Jai Sri Ram, Jai Sri Ram (Hail Lord Ram)." They left thinking the pastor was already dead, and church officials found his body in the church compound.
Morning Star learned from the Vaishali District Superintendent of Police Rakesh Kumar that doctors had determined that the pastor lost his hearing because of the severe beating he received. Police have detained five suspects but later released them because the victim could not identify them.
The assailants are suspected to be devotees of Ram who took part in a Hindu spring festival on the day that the pastor was attacked.
Aside from carrying out the brutal attack, Arun said the assailants also took the pastor's mobile phone and have been answering incoming calls since then. He has already asked the authorities to trace the device as he has been receiving threats over the phone.
Based on a new report by the All India Christian Council, violent attacks against Christians in India have seen an alarming surge in 2016. It revealed that one attack is being reported every 40 hours and that the physical attacks targeting believers have increased by 40 percent, The Christian Post relays.
The reported attacks against Indian Christians include vandalism, burning of churches or Bibles, death threats, physical harm, disruption of church services, and forced conversion to Hinduism. Such attacks have been on the rise since 2014, when the Hindu national Bharatiya Janata Party won.