Hindu extremists in India brutally beat a Christian leader before running their motorcycles over him while mocking his faith as he lay semi-conscious in Sehore, Madhya Pradesh state, according to a pastor.
Shortly after dropping his 5-year-old son off at school that morning, Isaac Paulose, 48, was beaten by 10 Hindu nationalists armed with bamboo rods and a thick metal chain with a heavy lock on it. The attackers then ran their five motorcycles over him, fracturing one of his ribs, Uttar Kumar Deep, pastor of Grace Fellowship Church of CEA (Christian Evangelistic Assemblies), Sehore told Morning Star News.
According to Deep, Paulose was in his car when a Hindu nationalist on a motorcycle stopped him and told him to get out.
“Unaware of his intentions and without a slightest of suspicion, Isaac stepped out,” Deep said. “Suddenly others joined the biker, and all of them began to beat Isaac with bamboo logs and a chain. The moment he stepped out of his car, the others joined in, and they began to beat him.”
Paulose’s wife, Elizabeth Isaac, witnessed the attack and said: “The moment he stepped out of his car, the others joined in, and they began to beat him. Accusing him of ‘converting people,’ they beat him with bamboo logs and a thick metal chain with a lock attached to its end. They scorned and ridiculed him, daring him to continue to convert people.”
The assailants threatened to kill the pastor before leaving and mocked his faith, Deep said.
“When he lay on the ground half-dead, they drove their bikes, five in number, one after another over him, injuring him further and breaking his rib,” he said. “They scorned and taunted him, asking him to call on the name of Jesus. They also threatened to kill him if he continues to ‘convert’ people.”
The assailants fled only after passers-by noticed and came to Paulose’s aid. The Christian leader was rushed to a hospital where he underwent two surgeries on his left hand, which sustained multiple fractures.
“He has received two stitches at the back of his head, and one stitch on his forehead,” Isaac said. “One of his ribs is fractured, for which the doctors said that nothing can be done and that he will need to take a lot of rest for the rib to heal by itself.”
Hemant Lal, a Christian leader from Bhopal, said Paulose was honored to suffer in Christ’s name.
“Brother Isaac’s condition was very bad when he was brought to Bhopal,” Lal told Morning Star News. “I was amazed at his faith. He told me he was not scared, and that there will be difficulties in doing the Lord’s work, but that he was glad that he suffered for the name of Jesus.”
Sehore police registered a First Information Report against the unidentified assailants under the Indian Penal Code for criminal intimidation, damage, wrongful restraint and voluntarily causing hurt. They later added a section pertaining to attempted murder.
India’s Freedom of Religion Act 2019, which 8 out of 29 states in the country have passed, bans religious conversion as a result of force or inducement. Those who violate the forced religious conversion law face anywhere from three to seven years in prison.
Under the law, forced religious conversions are those which occur under misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, inducement, marriage, or other fraudulent means.
However, critics say these laws are often abused by Hindu radicals to persecute Christians and other religious minorities. Numerous reports have emerged of extremist groups and police targeting Christians with the allegation of “conversion by force, fraud, or allurement.”
Speaking to Morning Star News, Deep said Paulose does not engage in forced conversion.
“Such incidents should not happen with us; we are peace-loving people,” Deep said. “We do not get violent, and accusing someone of [forced] conversion without any reason and proof is not a good thing.”
India is ranked 10th on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2020 World Watch List of countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.
According to the Religious Liberty Commission of the Evangelical Fellowship of India, which has been documenting incidents of persecution against Christians since 1998, incidents targeting Indian Christians have risen steeply since 2014, when Narendra Modi of the Bharatiya Janata Party came to power.
The commission recorded 147 verified cases of persecution in 2014; 252 cases in 2016; 351 in 2017; and 325 in 2018. The EFI commission will soon release the data for 2019.
The administration of President Donald Trump has been repeatedly criticized by Christian leaders for failing to condemn the deteriorating religious freedom conditions in India.
In an op-ed published by The Christian Post, Open Doors USA CEO David Curry stressed that India wanted Trump to “look the other way” when it comes to religious persecution.
“India, like the United States, is a vibrant democracy with constitutional protections for the religious freedom of its 1.3 billion citizens,” Curry wrote. “In recent years, those protections have started to look like empty promises. Worse still, Prime Minister Modi’s government appears determined to hide the facts on the ground.”