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Hindu Extremists Beat Pastor to Coma After 'Miraculous' Conversions in Telangana

Tuesday, November 14, 2017, 14:42 (IST)

A mob of masked men on motorbikes attacked a pastor in Telangana, leaving him in a coma state for 48 hours.

Pr Banothu Sevya, 26-year-old, was beaten by drunken Hindu extremists in Govindapuram, on the outskirts of Jamandlapalli village, Telangana, last month. On his way home from worship, the mob attacked him and tried to kill him, sources said.

Sevya is a pastor of a church in Sri Raja Thanda, a tribal hamlet in Mahabubabad District. He pastors over 60 members.

Recently five more families came to have faith in Christ. Aware of this, some assailants have threatened him twice before the attack.

The assailants had accused him of fraudulent or forcible conversion.

"But I didn't pay attention, knowing that when the Lord's work is taken up, there will be hurdles, and I never complained the police officials," said Sevya.

"I told them, 'I only share the gospel, that we are all sinners, and this world is to come to an end some day. Only Jesus Christ can cleanse us from the sins. He was crucified for our sake, and rose again to present us eternal life. I ask them if there is life in the rocks, trees and water – why worship them,'" he said.

Sevya said he speaks to every Banjaras (a tribal community) individually when they came to ask him about Christ.

"Most Banjaras say they get afflicted by evil spirits," he said.

"They want them to be sent away. Some want to be healed, some need the Lord's help in their pursuits to get educated. I share the gospel and pray for them. We witnessed the Lord doing miracles among them. He does not forsake anyone who comes to Him," he added.

Sevya first preached in Jangi Thanda, a village in Govindapuram, following a request of his relative. That incident led five families to Christ, he said.

"I too belong to the same Banjara tribal community, and it is not possible by human strength to separate them from idolatry – they have a number of gods enshrined in rocks, trees, water and the like," he said.

"The five families left everything behind and have been walking in the Light since they invited Jesus Christ into their hearts. It is a miracle," he added.

He was attacked on Oct. 5, when Sevya had just finished preaching to more than 60 villagers who had gathered at his relative's house to study the Bible and worship in a service that lasted until 9 p.m.

On his way home, he was attacked by masked men.

"I didn't see where they came from," he said.

"They pushed me off the bike and started beating me with sticks and kicking me. My nose and ears were bleeding. I lost my consciousness," he added.

He was rushed to a government hospital in Mahabubabad from where his wife, Banothu Anusha, was informed.

"I immediately rushed to the hospital with my father-in-law," she said.

"I was told my husband was found unconscious lying on the road by passengers of a State Road Transport Bus. They saw about 10 men fleeing from the scene, and one man lying unconscious as the bus approached," she added, according to Morning Star News.

The miscreants are from Jangi Thanda, where Sevya had been evangelizing the past few months, she said.

"They attempted to murder him," she said.

"Doctors in Mahabubabad and Warangal districts told me he would die, and my father and father-in-law arranged for 100,000 rupees and shifted him to a private hospital in Hyderabad," she added.

Sevya suffered blood clots in the cerebral area, brain coordination problems, injury to his eye and a damaged eardrum.

Recovering from coma stage, he said he was alive only by the grace of God.

"I forgive the youth who attacked, and I am praying for them," he said.

Police in the Mahabubabad Rural Police Station refused to file a First Information Report initially.

Anusha said police claimed they would investigate. But the couple doubt if police would be of any help. The assailants were masked and Sevya could not remember most of the assault, having slipped into a coma.

Anusha requested speedy recovery of her husband, and Sevya requested for strengthening of faith and completion of a church building at Jangi Thanda.