"I cannot leave Christ, nor can I leave the village" pastor in Uttarakhand grieves

Published 03 December 2019  |  

Twenty-eight-year-old pastor's family was attacked by a mob of 60 to 70 Hindu extremists, mainly females, in Bagwala village in Uttarakhand.

On November 8, when pastor Sawan Pol was away from home, a crowd of female villagers broke into the pastor's house and assaulted his father, mother, brother and wife.

"Some men were wearing boots – they kicked my little brother on his private parts with the boots on their feet and injured him so badly that he still cries with severe pain every time he urinates," pastor Pol said.

His father, mother and wife were beaten in such a way that they would not profusely bleed. They sustained internal injury. "My father and mother are unable to walk. My father is not able to breath normally after he was beaten on his chest," pastor Pol said.

Since most of the attackers were women, pastor Pol's father could not fight back.

"They knew my father would never resist attack by women, knowing well that the crowd would blame him for attempting to compromise a woman's dignity if he tried to resist," pastor Pol told Morning Star News. "Two men caught hold of him while the women attacked him with hands and wooden sticks. My brother was begging the assaulters to leave my father alone, but to no avail."

In the two-hour assault, the mob accused the family of being Christian and carrying out forced conversions as they hit them.

"My house was completely vandalized when I reached home, and I was devastated to see my father, mother, wife and brother," pastor Pol said.

On the same day, pastor Pol's father submitted a complaint at Rudrapur police station, but the police refused to register the case.

"The police came to our village and spoke to the head man of the village. The head man hushed up the case by convincing the police in-charge that he will mediate and strike a compromise between the two groups [attackers and the victims]. So the police did not take any action," pastor Pol regretted.

When the pastor insisted on registering the case, the station chief asked him to submit the assailants and their parents names along with their addresses.

"How can I know their mothers' and fathers' names and their correct addresses?" Pastor Pol said. "This is a way of demotivating me to pursue the case."

With no money to hire a lawyer and take the case forward, pastor Pol did not take it further with the police.

Pastor Pol leads an independent church in Bagwala but has been forced to stop holding worship services or gatherings. His family is receiving threats, and his 10-year-old brother is regularly bullied at school. The pastor is fearful for his family as they are the only Christians left in the village.

"I cannot leave Christ, nor can I leave the village and go – they [Hindus] will say that we have fled due to fear," pastor Pol said. "If I leave, someone else will come [to lead services], but opposition will be strengthened to persecute this new pastor more."

In the midst of severe persecution, pastor Pol continues to lead worship services at nearby villages.


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