When a polite Sikh asked a taxi-driving Christian pastor in northern India to take a short detour, the pastor didn't think he had anything to worry about.
He had been left off the night before at a hotel in Ambala, Haryana state, by Pastor Sukhdev Mark, 47, who had picked him up from a gurdwara, or Sikh place of worship. Pastor Mark offered him a gospel pamphlet during their talk, which the Sikh graciously accepted, he added.
The Sikh requested a ride from the hotel to the Amritsar airport the following day, September 15, when he called him. During the ride, the Sikh asked him if he is a pastor and he responded that he leads a small church and shares the Gospel.
"Throughout the journey to Amritsar, we didn't talk much," said Pastor Mark according to Morning Star News. "He was working on his laptop and had an iPhone, and so I thought he must be an educated man. I didn't find him suspicious as he appeared to be a well-educated gentleman. He asked for my phone and set the location for directions to follow the route."
While they were getting near Celebrations Resort on the Majitha-Verka bypass road, the Sikh asked him to take a small by-lane. He thought the Sikh wanted to buy some food and refreshments from the shops. He was asked to drive out of the by-lane where he saw three men on a scooter without a license which stopped the taxi.
The incident that left the pastor bleeding profusely
The Sikh said the men on the scooter were his friends. He then parked the taxi on the side of the road but while taking his bags out of the trunk, the men pounced him with knives and cutters. They were slashing him while the Sikh looked on even if he asked for helped. He began shouting for help and the three people ran away along with the Sikh who didn't even pay for his fare.
"Hearing my screams, escort teams [hotel security guards] came in their vehicles but they were afraid seeing my state in blood-soaked clothes," he said, according to The Christian Post. "They told me to go away from there. I kept asking them to tell me where is the nearest police station, and I shared what happened."
According to him, he drove with one hand to the police station while holding onto a piece of fabric from his car to support his bruised stomach. He claimed that officials transported him to a hospital after Amritsar police seized the vehicle and obtained his statement. He contacted his wife and Christian authorities in Ambala from there, and they assisted in putting him in touch with Amritsar church leaders who transported him to Gurunanak Hospital.
He had 30 stitches after having surgery on his abdomen, he claimed. On September 23, he was discharged from the hospital.
The three attackers were detained and charged with attempted murder under Section 307 of the Indian Penal Code, according to the legal coordinator for ADF India in the Punjab and Haryana states, Amritsar police.
Attacks on Christians in India
Sikhism, which developed at the end of the 15th century in the Punjab region of India, places a strong emphasis on belief in the one creator, divine oneness and equality of all people, selfless service, and the pursuit of justice and honesty.
As in 2021, India maintained its 10th-place ranking on the 2022 World Watch List of nations where it is most difficult to be a Christian. In 2013, the nation ranked thirty-first, but when Modi took office, its position worsened, The Baptist Paper reports.