Rev Prashant Bhatnagar was abducted, beaten, and threatened with death. One attacker urinated on his wounds. Unconscious, he was dumped on a road. His wife too endured physical and verbal abuse. Their “fault” was handing out leaflets about a religious service. A case has been filed against the attackers.
Mumbai (AsiaNews) – A Pentecostal clergyman and his wife were beaten in Maharashtra by men from the Shri Ram Pratishthan, a local Hindu educational institution, as they handed out leaflets.
The Hindu radicals objected to the fact that the two Christians were distributing religious material inviting people to attend the Sunday service.
"The Pentecostal Christians were not engaged in any illegal activity,” said Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC). “They were handing out leaflets in a peaceful manner, but were beaten and accused of forced conversions.” However, “In secular India, spreading one’s faith is a constitutionally guaranteed."
The attack took place last Friday (16 September) in the town of Taloja. Rev Prashant Bhatnagar and his wife Manisha were approached by members of the Hindu group. The latter grabbed the pastor and took him to a place near the city jail. Here they pointed a gun at him and threatened to kill it if he continued to distribute religious materials.
Rev Bhatnagar told police that he was violently beaten, and that one of his attackers urinated on his wounded body. After the beating, he was brought back to the place where he had been taken and dumped on the asphalt still unconscious.
Meanwhile his wife was also physical and verbal abused. The extremists “did not spare her,” said the GCIC president. “This is a disgrace for our society, when women are not respected and are instead beaten up.”
The clergyman was taken to hospital and later filed a complaint. The Kharghar police station registered the complaint as a case of unlawful assembly (sections 143, 144 and 149 (A) of the Indian Penal Code), wrongful confinement (sect. 342), outrage against a woman’s modesty (sect. 354), kidnapping or abduction (sect. 365), intentional insult (sect. 504), criminal intimidation (sect. 506), voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons or means (sect. 326), and uttering words with deliberate intent to wound the religious feelings of any person (sect. 298).