An Indian pastor has recounted his horrifying experience of being dragged into the street and beaten by an angry mob as he attempted to pray for a sick person.
Pastor Suresh Rao told International Christian Concern that the vicious assault took place in Kolonguda village last Sunday when a group of 150 people descended on him.
He recalled: "They kicked me like they would kick a football. They dragged me into the street and pushed me to the ground. There, they started to trample on me. They tore my clothes, kicked me all over my body, and punched my left eye. I have sustained a serious eye injury as a result of a blood clot.”
Rao, who is a church planter in India’s Telangana state, said that he was targeted after travelling to the house of a sick local to pray for them. Soon, a large group of men — led by an individual by the name of "Ashok" — had surrounded the house and were baying for blood. The attackers accused the pastor of attempting to convert Hindus to Christianity.
Rao recalled what the mob was saying as they attacked him: “They said that India is a Hindu nation, and there is no place for Christians. I am prepared for this kind of eventuality. I know the cost of serving Jesus in these remote villages, and I will continue to serve the people of this region.”
Anti-Christian and anti-evangelism feeling has been ramping up across India in recent years, with Hindu nationalists believing that Christianity is a foreign religion that has no place in their country.
Recently, the Hindu nationalist government of the northern state of Haryana announced its plan to pass a law that would make it illegal for Christians to share about their faith, discuss Heaven or Hell, or even perform charity work for lower caste Hindus. The so-called anti-conversion laws have already been enacted across eight other Indian states.
According to persecution charity Open Doors, Christians in India face "horrific levels of violence from extremists" with "thousands of attacks" taking place every single year.
The organisation notes that converts to Christianity from a Hindu background "are especially vulnerable to persecution and are constantly under pressure to return to Hinduism", often suffering physical violence if they refuse.