Christian leaders are attacked with swords in northern India

By Morning Star News |
Gurdeep Singh, attacked along with his brother, Pastor Gurjeet Singh, in Amritsar District, Punjab state, India on April 18, 2024.
Gurdeep Singh, attacked along with his brother, Pastor Gurjeet Singh, in Amritsar District, Punjab state, India on April 18, 2024. | (Morning Star News)

A group belonging to a Sikh warrior order last week attacked a pastor and another Christian with swords and knives in northern India’s Punjab state for leading church worship in their village.

Four Nihang Sikhs, who as members of the traditional warrior group are permitted to carry such weapons, attacked Pastor Gurjeet Singh, alias Gurjeet Rinku, and his younger brother Gurdeep Singh on Thursday (April 18) in Sultanwind village, Amritsar District, a relative said.

The assailants first told Gurdeep Singh, and later Pastor Singh, “We have warned you earlier as well, to not conduct church and not convert people, but you have not paid heed,” according to Daljit Kaur, the pastor’s wife and an eyewitness.

The four Nihang Sikhs found Gurdeep Singh standing outside the house where the worship service is held at about 9 a.m.

“Finding him alone, these men pounced on him and struck him with swords and knives,” Kaur told Morning Star News.

Hearing the commotion, she and Pastor Singh rushed outside, and the pastor rushed to rescue his brother. The mob swiftly turned to the pastor and struck him with several blows of the sword, Kaur said.

“They were targeting his head,” she said. “To protect his head, Gurjeet shielded every blow with his hand and thus sustained severe cuts on both his hands, his arm, his palm and they almost chopped off his thumb.”

Gurdeep Singh, shielding his head with his hands, sustained deep cuts on his head, hands and one wrist.

The assailants constantly used abusive and coarse language as they stuck the brothers, Kaur said. They accused the two Christians of conducting church services and luring villagers and others from nearby areas to convert. They also told Gurdeep Singh that the brothers had failed to cease worship after they had given the pastor enough warnings, she said.

“My husband was threatened twice by the Nihang Sikhs earlier, but he did not tell me anything about the threat – he knew I would begin to worry,” Kaur said.

She rushed the brothers to the private Amandeep Hospital in Amritsar after two other hospitals refused to treat them because of the severity of their condition, Kaur said. Pastor Singh received one unit of blood.

“They somehow managed to stop the bleeding temporarily and asked me to deposit money first before they would start the actual treatment,” she said.

Soon Kaur arranged for an ambulance to rush them to Christian Medical College & Hospital in Ludhiana, 90 miles from Amritsar.

“I did not have money to treat them in Amritsar,” Kaur said.

The same night, the doctors conducted an MRI scan of Gurdeep Singh’s head and stitched his cut, she said. Both Christians underwent surgery the next morning for wounds on their hands.

“Both Gurdeep and Gurjeet’s hand cuts are deep, and thus the doctors said that they had to be operated on,” Kaur said, her voice wavering.

The Christians have yet to file a police complaint.

“A lot of local media and police arrived, but the police did not offer to register a complaint,” Kaur said. “We will do that once pastor is fit to do so.”

The Singh brothers were born and brought up in Sultanwind village and lived together in a joint family with Pastor Singh and Kaur’s two sons, ages 8 and 2, and the three children of Gurdeep Singh and his wife, ages 8, 11 and 18.

Pastor Vishnu Dev, also a local leader in Ludhiana, said the brothers need much prayer.

“I am very disturbed at the brutal attack on the brothers,” Pastor Dev told Morning Star News. “If the police do not conduct fair investigation and just action, we will gather together and protest against the authorities and demand justice.”

Pastor Singh has led the house church for 10 years, with his brother assisting.

India ranked 11th on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2024 World Watch List of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian. The country was 31st in 2013, but its position worsened after Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power.

The hostile tone of the National Democratic Alliance government, led by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), against non-Hindus, has emboldened Hindu extremists in several parts of the country to attack Christians since Modi took power in May 2014, religious rights advocates say.

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