Bihar, Pentecostal pastor attacked for 'forced conversions'

The Rev. Joseph was traveling with 13 other faithful. Hindu radicals surrounded their bus. "No one intervened to save" the pastor. Another Christian also beaten.

Bettiah (AsiaNews / Agencies) - A Pentecostal pastor was attacked and beaten by Hindu radicals for alleged "forced conversions" in the district of West Champaran, Bihar. Police superintendent Jayant Kant said the incident occurred on February 26, while the Gems missionary (Gospel Echoing Missionary Society) was on a bus with 13 faithful.

The group was to attend a prayer gathering in the Protestant church of Saint Paul in Bettiah. Pastor Palanivelu, the local Gems leader, says that during the journey the Rev. Joseph and his companions spoke about the Gospel with the other passengers on the bus. But one of them, affiliated to a radical Hindu group, did not like to discuss Christianity. So he started screaming at the Christians, and questioning the motivations that drove the faithful to abandon their religion of origin (assuming they were all previously Hindu faith).

Shibu Thomas, of Persecution Relief, told Matters India that "the angry passenger alerted other members of the fundamentalist group. Once we arrived at the Bettiah station, there was a crowd of fanatics waiting for the unsuspecting Christians".

The radicals isolated the rev. Joseph and Baldev Singh, another Christian of the group, and they beat them violently. Thomas reports that "no one intervened to help them while they begged for help. A traffic agent tried to calm spirits, but he was turned away by the angry mob ".

The two Christians were transported to the hospital to be medicated. At first the police refused to register the case, while a medical-legal report was noted against unknown persons. Later the agents declared that they are willing to collect the complaints from the pastor or the other members of the group.