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Pastor, His Family Receive Death Threats in Haryana
Friday, September 7, 2018, 19:20 (IST)
Hindu extremist-led mob of 200 people on July 11 threatened to kill a pastor and his family in Haryana after they falsely accused him for desecration of Hindu idols and forcible conversion.
Pr Avianshu Kalra and his family had to abandon their home for their lives. As a result, his wife has suffered pregnancy complications and his 4-year-old son was kept out of preschool for a week.
Also, his father has been suspended from his work as a journalist after being charged with a defamation suit.
Kalra, 32-year-old, is the lead pastor of Assemblies of God of Karuna House of Prayer.
The mob accused him of forcibly converting a Hindu family and destroying their Hindu deities and images of Sikh gurus. On the incident day, they blocked the entry and exit to his home and church compound and chanted threats.
"My mother was all alone and was terrified," Pastor Kalra told MSN.
"The mob was shouting, 'Come out, we will not spare you, we will burn you,'" he added.
Kalra said he was thankful to God that police arrived and took the mob to the station before he returned home or they would have attacked him, his four-month pregnant wife and son.
However, police took no action was taken against them, he said.
On July 12, Kalra submitted a written complaint seeking intervention against extremist threats to life and property at the Baldev Nagar police station.
That same day, following a complaint from the extremists, police registered a First Information Report (FIR) against the Kalra, his wife Ritu Kalra, his father Pardeep Gulati and mother Kalpana for allegedly hurting religious feelings and insulting someone's religion.
On July 13, the family left home to avoid arrest.
"Going door-to-door, we collected all the information [for defense] and pleaded with high officials, requesting they make an initial enquiry before they arrest us," said Kalra.
The mob is Shiv Sena members, a Hindu nationalist political party, he said. They have been monitoring our family since the family started the church in 2014, he added.
"They are targeting our church as my father [Gulati] has been an eye-sore for them for the past so many years," said Kalra.
Gulati, an influential journalist, works to help persecuted Christians.
"He has gone out of the way helping Christians to get justice and travelled to various cities, helping all those who are being troubled for their faith in Jesus," he added.
After Gulati's newspaper and others revealed the harassment the Hindu extremists have inflicted upon his family, the extremists filed suit alleging defamation, said Kalra.
"A FIR copy has been sent to the Punjab Kesari agency, a copy to the president of the Ambala Press Club and another to the president of the Haryana Press Club to defame my father's position," he said.
"My father has been suspended till the investigations are over," he added.