Anticipating Violence in Karnataka State

Jul 10, 2022 | VoM

On 31 January 2021, Pastor Ashok and about 150 other believers gathered as usual for Sunday worship at their church in Karnataka state.

As church members assembled for worship, a large group of Hindu nationalists barged into the church building shouting about Hindu gods. They then locked the building from the inside and beat Pastor Ashok and other believers with whatever they could find, including Bibles and a tambourine. It was the third time the church had been attacked by Hindu radicals.

Ashok’s 13-year-old daughter, Miriam, dropped to her knees in front of the attackers, pleading with them to stop beating her father. When she persisted in begging them to stop, one of the men kicked her in the stomach, leaving her writhing in pain on the floor.

The pastor and his daughter were among 28 believers, including women and children, who were beaten during the 45-minute attack. Miriam, whose injuries were more severe than most, suffered internal bleeding for more than two weeks and required extensive treatment for her stomach injury.

Pastor Ashok filed a case against the attackers with police. In response, the attackers filed a case against him, falsely accusing him of forcibly converting Hindus to Christianity. As his congregation recovered from the attack, Pastor Ashok resumed church services, but he is still dealing with the legal case against him.

Since beginning his ministry work in 2004, Pastor Ashok has been attacked three times. He has led more than 100 Hindus to Christ, making him an attractive target for the Hindu nationalists.

During the second attack, in 2010, his pregnant wife, Kala, was beaten so severely that she lost their baby and was left unconscious for three days. Following the attack, Ashok was forced to move his family to a different district because no one would rent them a home.

Pastor Ashok and his church members know they could face further attacks, but they continue to pray for their persecutors. Many of the believers said they forgive their attackers and want them to know Jesus too.