Police In India Allegedly Assault, Threaten Pastor

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A pastor in India claimed the police assaulted him after being reported worshipping in a relative’s house and threatened not to file a complaint or his life would be jeopardized.

Pastor Pravesh Kumar narrated to Morning Star News how he was indicted and assaulted by the authorities in India two months ago. On April 22, he was arrested by the police after being reported by a Hindu neighbor singing hymns on the roof at his grandmother’s house as a part of their family devotion.

Despite his explanations that his family was all followers of Christ, they still accused him of forcible religious conversion. The officers tied him to a tree and physically attacked him while abusing him with foul words at the Bijauli police outpost on the evening of that day.

Kumar reported he was assaulted severely, causing his legs to swell and preventing him from walking. When his 55-year-old uncle came, he realized Kumar was limping and urged the cops to stop. To release them, the officers demanded 20,000 to 25,000 rupees (US$256 to US$320). Since the 26-year-old has no money and hadn’t done anything wrong, the police took them to the Bardah police station.

After they were taken, an officer asked about his limp and criticized the officers for striking him in visible body areas. The officer showed his junior policemen which part of the body they should target when assaulting a person. Using a leather strap, the pastor and his uncle were lashed out 30 to 40 times by the officer while hailing Hindu gods and goddesses “Jai! Sri Ram (Hail! lord Ram)!” and “Jai! Durga Ki (Hail! Durga).”

The officer allegedly told his subordinates to create a report indicating that the pastor and his uncle had fought.

Police Denied Allegations, Beating In Custody

Following reports that they had been beaten while in detention, Christian leaders from Uttar Pradesh and Delhi contacted the police to ask about the arrest. After receiving such calls, Kumar was even more tortured, attacking him for having a support group. The two Christians sustained internal and exterior injuries. Kumar said he was beaten in all major joints, including the wrists and knees, and one of his wrists had a ruptured nerve that went black.

They were charged with “five or more assembly and disturbing public peace,” “abetting commission of the offense,” and “abetting commission of the offense” under the Indian Penal Code. Following a medical examination, they appeared in front of the Sub-Divisional Magistrate court in Lalganj, Azamgarh District, and were freed on bail the next evening.

Dinanath Jaiswar, a human rights activist and Christian leader in Uttar Pradesh, said that he shed tears after seeing Kumar’s condition in the police station. Another Christian leader, who requested anonymity, said the authorities flatly rejected that they tortured Kumar and his uncle. They felt helpless, he claimed and questioned where they could obtain safety when the protectors had turned on them.

Threatened Not To File A Complaint

During their medical examination, the senior police official barred Kumar from reporting any complaint about the assault in custody, or else he said that the cops “know where to find him.” The doctor was shocked by his condition and told Kumar that he can indicate the true reason behind the leather strap marks and baton markings on his body.

Kumar refused to confess the truth out of fear of interfering with his brother’s wedding. His family also warned him not to cause any problems in the house. The Amamahua villagers warned him also not to worship again in their home or they will report him again. Since then, the pastor stopped leading the Sunday service or prayer meetings every Friday.

This article first appeared on christianitydaily.com

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