06/13/2007, 00.00
INDIA
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A Protestant pastor is beaten, before his conversion he was a Hindu nationalist

Before he converted, Laxmi Narayan Gowda, an independent pastor and representative of the Global Council of Indian Christians was a member of a Hindu nationalist group. Aggressors beat him up and attempted to set him on fire. Now he is in hospital.

Delhi (AsiaNews/Compass) – A mob of young Hindu extremists beat the pastor and tried to set him on fire before parading him naked in the suburbs of Bangalore, capital of Karnataka state. The Compass Direct News agency reports that Laxmi Narayan Gowda, an independent pastor and representative of the Global Council of Indian Christians, is now in hospital: he is badly wounded and has serious burns.   

The incident took place at about 7 p.m. June 7th in Hessarghatta, about 30 kilometres from Bangalore.  A group of about 50 people barged into the pastor's house and threatened him with violence unless he moved out of the area.

The group returned with 100 more people shortly after, cornered Pastor Gowda in a room in his house, and began assaulting him in front of his wife and two small children.  Eye witnesses say that the mob was led by   Extremists of the Bajrang Dal, youth wing of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP or World Hindu Council). 

They tried to set fire to the pastor with a burning Bible.  The extremists then stripped the pastor naked and hung a board around his neck that said, "I am the one who was converting people," before parading him through the area.  

Prior to his conversion Pastor Gowda was a member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, [a paramilitary organization of numerous Hindu extremist groups in India]: according to a source “the attackers seemingly wanted to punish him for his for converting to Christianity from their Hindu nationalistic ideology, and warn others against doing so”. 

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