Date:  February 8, 2021

Hindu extremists viciously beat an Indian pastor and his congregation, including women and children, during Sunday worship on 31 January, as a mob of around 30 waited outside to prevent Christians escaping the church in Karnataka State.

Up to eight radicals burst into the church meeting room in Harohalli, about 60km from Bangalore, and demanded the worshippers repeat the Hindu chant “Jai Shri Ram” (victory to Lord Ram, a Hindu god also called Rama), a command used in a previous anti-Christian attack.

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Pastor Subhash Hanok lies injured on a hospital trolley awaiting treatment following his brutal beating

When they refused, the gang launched an “all-out assault” on Pastor Subhash Hanok, and “thrashed him mercilessly all over his body”, said a church leader. They attacked around 28 other Christians, including the pastor’s 13-year-old daughter, Sara, who was kicked on the side of her stomach.

Pastor Subhash, a convert from Hinduism who has been attacked by extremists twice before, was so badly injured that he could not walk and his body was covered in punch marks and cuts. Afterwards he said, “I have dedicated my life to die for the Lord. This doesn’t affect me.” At the time of writing, the pastor was being treated in hospital for his injuries.

The church leader said the police made only a nominal note of Christian complaints against the attackers and they have not been charged. However, police have brought charges against Pastor Subhash, including for “conversion”, and the church. Police have interviewed the landlord of the house where the church meets and are pressurising him to evict the congregation.

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The church meeting room was left in disarray after the attack

“God is on our side and we will not be defeated”

The church leader requested prayer for Pastor Subhash and other Christians injured in the attack. “We do not know what lies next,” he added. “But we do know that God is on our side and we will not be defeated.”

In 2008, the pastor was badly beaten by extremists. His wife, Ratna, who was eight months pregnant at the time, lost their unborn child soon after the attack. Pastor Subhash was attacked again seven years later and the church was forced to vacate the rented house where their meetings were held after Hindu extremists pressurised their landlord.

There were no Christians in Harohalli before the church opened 15 years ago. Pastor Subhash, who trained at a Bible seminary after becoming a Christian, devoted his ministry to Harohalli and the church has gradually grown in number.