Indian Pastor Jumps Out of Moving Car in Attempt to Escape Execution by Hindu Radicals

Supporters of hardline Vishwa Hindu Parishad Hindu group hold tridents in the western Indian city of Ahmedabad, India.
Supporters of hardline Vishwa Hindu Parishad Hindu group hold tridents in the western Indian city of Ahmedabad, India. | (PHOTO: REUTERS)

A pastor in the Southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu tried to escape a radical Hindu mob that was trying to execute him by jumping out of a moving vehicle after it attacked him and his son. Police have reportedly refused to file charges against the attackers.

Pastor Jayaseelan Natarajan and his son, who have been trying for years to construct a church in the Karur District, were attacked on June 20 at the church construction site in the Thozilpettai area by a mob who opposed the pastor's desire to build a home for his house church congregation.

Morning Star News reports that the pastor and his son were attacked by the mob of about 20 Hindus believed to be associated with the Hindu nationalist group Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh after they were accused of running a brothel.

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An incident first occurred on June 18, when Natarajan's son, Samuel, went to the church compound to water flowers when he was met by a nearby Hindu liquor shop owner connected to the RSS and a group of others who questioned him and interrogated him about a woman they believed to be in the church compound.

After it was determined that there was no woman, the shop owner, named Kumar, threatened to kill Samuel and his father.

Two days later, the Hindu group returned and proceeded to attack Natarajan and his family.

"Kumar saw us and blew whistles, and immediately a mob of 20 barged inside the compound," Natarajan told Morning Star News. "We asked what was wrong and why they were entering the premises. They paid no heed, picked up flower pots and smashed them."

According to the website, Samuel was struck with a wooden stick but was able to escape. However, Pastor Natarajan was not so fortunate.

"They chased me and beat me badly," he was quoted as saying.

Although Natarajan called for an ambulance, the attackers sent the ambulance away when it arrived by telling the medics that no one is injured.

Even though Natarajan was able to catch up to the ambulance, the medics reportedly refused to take him.

"I walked limping and bleeding around the street and pleaded for the ambulance to stop and told the driver that I was the one who called, but he told me he is only supposed to pick up people from the point/address they mention, and that he can't pick me up," Natarajan said.

Natarajan was able to continue walking until he was spotted by a friend of Kumar's, a lawyer known as Gobi.

"He first hit me and then forcefully pulled me inside his car," the pastor claimed. "He ordered the driver to take us to a desolate place and said that I should be killed at that spot. By God's grace, after traveling about a kilometer or so, there was a traffic circle and speed breakers on the road, and the driver slowed down the car. I quietly loosened the car's door to my side and jumped out quickly."

However, Gobi reportedly stopped the car and then grabbed the pastor by the collar and took him to a police station that was only a few yards away.

Gobi accused Natarajan of running a brothel and being involved in adultery, according to Morning Star News.

Police sent Natarajan to a hospital to recover and took his official statement the next day.

However, the pastor says that the police refused to take down information related to the death threat against him and the fact that Gobi, who has powerful political connections, abducted him and forced him into the car.

"He simply wrote a short note that Kumar and a mob of 15 to 20 miscreants have attacked," Pastor Natarajan said. "When I inquired why he did not want to take my complaint against Gobi, he threatened me that there will be a counter-complaint against me if he took down Gobi's name."

Ranjendran Ramasamy, Natarajan's lawyer, told Morning Star News that no police action had been taken against the Hindu attackers a week after the attack occurred.

"Police refused to register an FIR [First Information Report] based on Pastor Natarajan's complaint," he said. "This shows how politically powerful the attackers are, that even police can't name them in a FIR."

The attack against the pastor and his son comes as India is ranked as the 11th-worst nation in the world when it comes to Christian persecution, according to Open Doors USA's 2018 World Watch List. Over the last few years, Christians in India have experienced increased persecution as the nation has steadily risen higher on the World Watch List in recent reporting years.

"Because Hindu radicals view Christians as outsiders, they are experiencing increased persecution," Open Doors, a leading persecution watchdog, explained in a factsheet. "These radicals are intent on cleansing the nation of both Islam and Christianity and employ violence to this end."

In May, prominent Hindu leader, Om Swami Maharaj, expressly warned Christians in India to "leave now" or be forcibly expelled.

Christians in India have also been at risk of being accused of forcible conversion, an act that is outlawed in certain states. In a number of instances, Christian adults traveling with children on their way to Christian camps or Bible programs have been arrested on grounds that they were trying to forcibly convert Hindu children.

In addition, there are frequent reports of religiously motivated killing, riots and assaults on religious minorities in the Hindu-majority nations.

In its 2018 International Religious Freedom report, the U.S. State Department explained that the U.S. embassy and the four consulates general have discussed religious and tolerance issues with the ruling and opposition parties, as well as leaders of various faiths.

"Embassy officials also engaged officials from the National Commission for Minorities and the National Human Rights Commission, political leaders, state and local officials, religiously affiliated organizations, and civil society groups from all religious communities," the report says.

In its 2018 report, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom once again called on the State Department to label India as a "Tier 2" country, which signifies nations engage or tolerate systematic, ongoing, or egregious" religious freedom violations.

Follow Samuel Smith on Twitter: @IamSamSmith Follow Samuel Smith on Facebook: SamuelSmithCP

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