A pastor and his wife were beaten by Hindu Nationalists while praying in their home last week after serving India's "Untouchables" a report said.
The pastor, Ram Niwas, and his wife, Pinky, was attacked with sticks in their home located at Sitamarhi City in eastern India's Bihar State, the Christian Post (CP) reported. A church member named Narender, who was praying with the couple, was also attacked. The attackers belonged to the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, also known as World Hindu Council or VHP, which is a Hindu nationalist group.
As per CP, the pastor was disabled because of an accident that happened in his childhood. He and his wife were serving the "untouchables" or the Dalit people of India. The VHP has long been targeting the pastor for converting Hindus into Christianity and was accused of forcing others to eat beef, which was forbidden to Hindus as they regard it as sacred.
Christian Solidarity Worldwide-USA said that the attackers involved a villager and the pastor's four brothers who were supporters of the Bajran Dal, which is the militant wing of VHP. The attackers were able to break into the home of Niwas using a hammer and that Narender came to the couple's aid while other supporters of the Bajran Dal were waiting outside the house.
According to CSW, Niwas suffered a fractured shoulder while Pinky suffered severe head injuries like that of Narender. All three were brought for medical attention and treatment to the Muzaffarpur Hospital. The photo posted by CSW in their website of Niwas showed his shoulders in a cast while his right arm was held in an improvised sling while in the hospital. Meanwhile, his wife and Narender had their heads wrapped in bloodied bandages.
The pastor's CCTV, CSW added, was able to document the incident but the video camera and its recording was said to seized by the Bharatiya Janata Party and handed to their leader Arun Singh.
"Our deepest sympathies are with this couple, who were attacked simply for practicing their faith," said CSW Founder President Mervyn Thomas in their website.
"The Indian state must ensure that all citizens are afforded the adequate protection under the law, and it is deeply concerning that the authorities did not act on previous threats to Pastor Niwas, allowing the campaign of fear and intimidation against him to continue," he added. "We urge the local authorities to take this matter seriously and investigate as a matter of urgency, ensuring that the perpetrators of this attack answer for their crimes."
Niwas has been working in Sitamarhi's Scheduled Caste since 2015 as part of his Ministry as a Christian pastor. This has led to him receiving death threats from various nationalist groups in India since 2018 such as the Rashtriya Swayamesevak Sang. The RSS threatened him that he and his Christian converts could stay in Bihar provided that they "must reconvert and go through the rituals of ghar wapsi ceremony," which is a "homecoming" ceremony for converts to Hinduism.
Niwas received new threats two years after that of the RSS, but this time it came from the Bajrang Dal. The Bajrang Dal's 20 members attempted to attack Niwas but failed. The pastor then filed a complained with local authorities citing the Code of Criminal Procedure Section 156 (3) for his case to be investigated on. However, local police did not act upon the matter and the case remains unresolved.