Hindu mob beats, humiliates pastor

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A mob of Hindu extremists beat a pastor and tried to set him on fire before parading him naked in the suburbs of Bangalore, India, on June 8. Laxmi Narayan Gowda was beaten in his home, in front of his wife and two small children, by men allegedly associated with the Bajrang Dal, the youth wing of the extremist World Hindu Council.

One of the assailants threw kerosene on the pastor and others vandalized the house and burned Bibles, Sam Joseph of the All India Christian Council told Compass Direct News. One attacker tossed a burning Bible onto Pastor Gowda — but he did not catch fire.

The group then stripped the pastor naked, hung a sign around his neck that said, "I am the one who was converting people," and paraded him through the streets as an estimated 1,000 people mocked and beat him.

Police arrived on the scene about an hour later. Officials said a case had not been filed against the attackers because the pastor, who was recovering in the hospital, had told them he did not want to file a complaint. The attackers reportedly included some of Gowda's neighbors.

Gowda reportedly was himself a member of a Hindu extremist group before coming to Christ 15 years ago. One observer speculated that he was singled out for the attack to punish him for becoming a Christian.

Pastor Gowda has been working in the area for the last 12 years. The source also said the pastor was firm in his faith following the attack.

According to Compass, Dr. Sam Paul, AICC's public affairs secretary, said that although Karnataka was known for anti-Christian attacks, the situation has become more volatile in the state since the Janata Dal-Secular party, in coalition with the Hindu nationalistic Bharatiya Janata Party, took power from the Congress Party in February 2006.

"Extremists in Karnataka are emboldened as the police usually turn up after the incident," he said. "There are also times when the police encourage anti-social elements to harass Christians."

Paul also stressed the need to educate India's people about true conversion, in particular that it does not mean that one becomes anti-national.