Pastors beaten and jailed after comforting grieving Hindu widower in India
Two pastors and one of their wives were reportedly beaten up and arrested on charges of “forced” conversion while they were consoling and praying for a Hindu man who had lost his wife, son and daughter-in-law to COVID-19 in northern India.
Pastor Neel Durai, Pastor Vijay Kumar Patel and his wife, Kiran Devi, are in jail after being physically assaulted by Hindu nationalist neighbors of 62-year-old Lalji Vishwakarma in the Phoolpur area of Uttar Pradesh state, Morning Star News reported.
“A mob of Hindu extremist neighbors from the Thakurcommunity barged inside the house and falsely accused me and the pastors visiting my house of forced conversions,” Vishwakarma was quoted as saying. “They have no pity that I have been grieving my family’s death.”
He told the nonprofit persecution news outlet that he lost his son, daughter-in-law and wife to COVID “one after the other.”
Vishwakarma is in a lower caste within India’s caste system, which is used in Hindu societies. Some in the lower Dalit caste are labeled as impure or “untouchables.” The attackers are from an upper caste.
The situation began after a shopkeeper near the house heard the visitors praying, knocked on the door and asked Vishwakarma what was going on inside.
Open Doors USA warns that since the ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party took power in 2014, persecution against Christians and other religious minorities has increased.