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Pastor Severely Beaten and His Wife Sexually Assaulted by Hindu Extremists in TN

Monday, July 30, 2018, 22:15 (IST)

A Hindu extremist interrupted Sunday worship and sexually assaulted a pastor's wife at a house church in Tamil Nadu on July 8.

Pratibha Stephen who was leading the morning worship in Jesus Power Ministries house church in Sathyamangalam, Erode District in TN, went to stop the intruder identified as Ajith Kumar, as he had interrupted the worship.

Kumar became uncontrollably angry and started beating and sexually assaulting her, Stephen told Morning Star News.

He shouted, "Don't you understand what my boss Guruswamy told you people? Don't you have shame? How many times must you be told that there should not be any Christian prayer meetings in the area?"

On the day of incident, her husband, Pr Paul Stephen, was away leading a worship service in Bhavani Sagar, about six miles away.

The church members tried to push Kumar off, but he held tightly to Stephen's sari, stripped it off and kicked her to the floor.

"He continued spewing abusive words. He then got on me and pressed my breasts. He said, 'Today I will teach a lesson to you and your husband. You people conduct Christian worship? How shameless! You both must be paraded naked for this,'" she told MSN.

The 38-year-old Stephen was repeatedly kicked in her stomach.

Before Kumar could rape her, four of his friends rushed in, pushed him off of her and took him away, said Stephen.

"I was crying in pain, the blows in my abdomen were so severe," she added.

The gang of five was waiting outside for her husband to arrive.

When he arrived in the afternoon, "the five men started beating my husband and me," she said.

The woman's brother, Gyana Prashant, who went to protect the couple, also received several blows.

When an ambulance was called, the five Hindu extremists stopped the vehicle, saying "We are the ones who are beaten up," got into it, and left, she said.

Stephen called for a second ambulance, and it took her wife and her brother to the government hospital in Satyamangalam.

Later, with the help of the leaders at the Synod of Pentecostal Churches, the victims were shifted to the hospital in Coimbatore.

The government hospital staffs declined to give them proper medical treatment, "and referred them to Coimbatore District Hospital for treatment," Rev. Raja Mani of the synod told MSN.

"The hospital in Coimbatore did not admit the couple for the first two days and was treating them as only out-patients. When the pastors in the area demanded the doctors and staff provide proper treatment, they were admitted and stayed there for three more days," he added.

Police in Satyamanagalam filed First Information Report (FIR) against the assailants, who were identified as members of Hindu extremist group Hindu Munnani.

Kumar, however, filed a counter-complaint against the pastor and his wife.

Police registered cases against the victims under Section 324 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), "voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons," a non-bailable offense, and failed to book Kumar under Tamil Nadu's Prohibition of Harassment of Women Act, a synod source said.

The couple denied causing any injury to the attackers. They seek anticipatory bail for the charges filed against them.