INDIA | Pastor, Family Brutally Attacked


Date:                         January 24, 2022


A pastor and his family were brutally beaten at their home in Chandauli, Uttar Pradesh, India, by unidentified men armed with wooden logs on Jan. 14.
Local sources report that Pastor Rakesh Babu, his wife, brother and son were attacked at approximately 10:15 p.m. by a group of eight people, just after they had gathered to pray in their parsonage, a tiny room attached to the church where Pastor Babu has served for the last 15 years.
The armed men reportedly hit Pastor Babu on his knees, head and back repeatedly, and kept saying, “Kill him, kill him.” His wife was hit on the throat so hard she started bleeding, and his brother also sustained injuries.     
The family fled through a neighboring swampy field. The pastor’s clothes were torn and his back, head and knees were bruised badly. His young son reportedly pled with the mob to let his father go. The pastor was able to escape to a friend’s house, who later took him to the Jalilpur police station and asked the police to file a complaint. At the station, Pastor Babu met with Sub Inspector (SI) Krishnakumar Gupta, who is said to have completely ignored his pleas for police protection. The police told him to go to the hospital and refused to file a complaint. He had a similar experience at a second police station in Mughalsarai.    
Pastor Babu told CSW, “I kept pleading with them for 15 minutes. Finally, a senior officer came and, seeing our plight, scolded the subordinates. They immediately called the police from my village, who then travelled about six kilometres to the station we were in. I was in a very bad state, so they made my son write the FIR (First Information Report), but they dictated what to write. There was a lot of false information in the FIR. For instance, they mentioned that a fight took place in agricultural land, whereas the fact was that they attacked us in our parsonage, a small room attached to the church. The FIR also didn’t include the injuries we sustained. We only got to know about all this later, as we were not in a state to go over the details. It was almost like the police and the attackers were working together against me. It was well-organised. There were some politicians involved too because I overheard a BJP man saying on the phone that the attackers were his people.”
On Jan. 8, just under a week before the night of the attack, a few villagers who claimed to be members of the Hindu nationalist group Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), filed a police complaint against Pastor Babu to SI Gupta at the Jalilpur police station claiming he was a Christian missionary who was making large sums of money through the church. The SI called Pastor Babu and threatened that if he continued to encourage others to join him in prayer, he would be jailed.
Over the next few days, the police attempted to get video evidence of what Pastor Babu was doing at the church through a church member named Jitendra Kumar, who owns a mobile and laptop repair shop. When the police visited the shop, Kumar refused to hand over footage of the church’s Christmas service after he called Pastor Babu, who told him about the threats he had received. However, the members of the RSS returned Jan. 9 when Kumar was away from the shop and took the footage from his nephew who was manning the shop at that time after they told him Kumar sent them and asked him to hand over the video to them.         
On Jan. 12, the same members of the RSS who had threatened Pastor Babu went around the village forcing people to sign a document which called for the destruction of the church building. When some of the villagers refused to sign it, they were threatened.   
After the attack on Jan. 14, the police took Pastor Babu, his wife and brother from Mughalsarai station to the nearby hospital. They were admitted for five days but did not receive adequate treatment, including food, clean water and warm water to bathe in. The hospital later discharged them even though they were not fully recovered. Although they were referred to Pandit Kamalapati Tripathi Hospital, Pastor Babu asked to be taken home so they could at least have some hot water to bathe in.
Two people were arrested on the night of the attack but were released in the early hours of the following morning. Pastor Babu told CSW, "The arrest was just an eyewash [sic]. Now, it's even more dangerous for me. I am still receiving threats. The attackers, some of whom are known to me, roam freely now."
CSW's Founder President Mervyn Thomas said, "We are deeply concerned for the safety of Pastor Babu and his family following this shocking attack, which was clearly pre-meditated and followed at least a week of intense harassment. The lack of concern from the police is deplorable, and the lack of arrests and prosecutions, even when the identities of the people harassing the pastor and his family are known, is inexcusable. We urge the Indian government to ensure Pastor Babu and his family are provided with police protection and that measures are taken to protect the family from further attack, including the arrest and prosecution of those threatening them. An independent review into police conduct in this case is also essential."

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