Police in India's Telangana state were reportedly pressured by Hindu radicals to file a case against a Christian pastor's family after a group of drunken Hindu men were arrested for attacking the family and crushing their youngest son's foot with a boulder.
According to Morning Star News, a group of young drunk men recently beat up the family of Pastor Kolhapuri Lachaiah Moses outside of their church in Ramachandrapuram village.
The altercation reportedly began when the family noticed motorcycles parked outside the church gates with a gang of men reading the church's banner, which quotes 2 Corinthians 12:9. The words "My grace is sufficient for you" are written in Telugu.
The pastor told the news outlet that his family initially thought the men were there to get some water. However, it quickly became apparent that the men weren't there for water when they began shouting derogatory caste remarks.
"The youths started shouting, 'Where is the pastor idiot?'" Moses recalled. "'Who gave you Christians the permission to set up a church here? You Shudras! Idiots! How dare you do Christian activities here?'"
The pastor went out to meet the men and asked what their fuss was about. Moses said he could smell the alcohol on their breath as he approached.
While the young men continued to make derogatory remarks, the pastor's older son came out and asked the gang not to make so much noise.
The son, Kolhapuri Prabhakar, told Morning Star News that the men began beating his father when he came out.
"When I tried to stop them, they punched me too," Prabhakar said. "My mother and sister also rushed to help us, only to be pushed away by the drunk men. They yelled, 'We have been looking for you for the past six months, we got you today. We will not stop now.'"
The radicals went after Moses' younger son, Kolhapuri Immanuel, when he called the police.
"Two of them held me by my hands, while the other threw that huge stone on my foot. I could not bear that pain," the 20-year-old Kolhapuri told Morning Star News.
Because of the injury, Kolhapuri reportedly suffered a broken fifth metacarpal, which required foot surgery.
The family tried to confine the young men so that the police could arrest them when they arrived. Before the police arrived two of the men escaped, according to Moses.
Assistant Sub-Inspector of Police Abdul Kareem told Morning Star News that the culprits were identified as members of a Hindu nationalist student group affiliated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, which is connected to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.
The group the attackers belong to is called Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad.
The older brother, Prabhakar, complained about the attack at the local police station before taking his brother to the hospital. The police registered the cases against 20-year-olds Chaviti Sathya Shiva, Edavelli Karthik, Kalikota Sai Krishna, and 19-year-old Kanaparthi Sai Sunil.
"The accused ABVP youth have connections with the political leaders at state and central levels," an anonymous police source told Morning Star News.
Because of those connections, pressure was placed on the police department to register a counter case against the persecuted Christian family.
"We came under severe pressure and registered a counter case against the Christians, but only as non-cognizable offenses [wherein no arrest can be made without a warrant]," the source was quoted as saying. "The BJP politicians are trying their best to bail out the [Hindu] accused."
A police inspector told Morning Star News that the Christian family was charged under a section of law banning "intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace, public nuisance and voluntarily causing hurt."
"Now the police are threatening us that we filed a false case to seek vengeance for the attack. It is not true," Prabhakar said. "That is not our intention. It was the police who levied the sections; we forgave our attackers and are ready to withdraw the case also."
Prabhakar added that police insulted him for being in a lower caste.
"The police called me and asked if I am human or animal," Prabhakar said. "They asked why am I unable to submit the medical reports, but the staff at Karimnagar General Hospital are refusing to issue the reports."
The news comes as persecution against Christians in India is increasing at alarming rates.
In February, the Religious Liberty Commission of the Evangelical Fellowship of India released its annual report on hate crimes against Christians in India.
The report found that there were over 351 cases of violence against Indian Christians in 2017.
The year 2017, the report found, was "one of the most traumatic for the Christian community" in the past decade.
India now ranks as the 11th-worst nation in the world when it comes to Christian persecution, according to Open Doors USA's 2018 World Watch List.
The news of the attack on the pastor's family in Telangana also comes after Hindu radicals badly injured at least six Christians in Odisha late last month because they were offended that a Christian family buried their deceased daughter inside the predominantly-Hindu village.