Worthy News Asia Service with Worthy News' Stefan J. Bos
NEW DELHI, INDIA (Worthy News)-- A man protesting conversions to Christianity went on a shooting spree and exploded a crude bomb in an evangelical church in India's eastern state of Bihar, seriously injuring the pastor and several worshipers, representatives confirmed Tuesday, March 10.
The Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI) said 35-year-old Pastor Vinod Bhaskar, whose last name is also spelled as Kumar, was shot in his left chest Sunday, March 8, during a worship service of the evangelical church in Baraw village, in Bihar's Rohtas district.
EFI, which represents churches across the country, said the pastor was rushed to a nearby hospital after the attack on Apostle James Church, also known as 'House of Prayer'. The group described his condition as "critical", although other Christians said the pastor's life was no longer in danger.
Four other believers, including a six-year old child, also required treatment in a local hospital after the attack on the Apostle James Church, also known as 'House of Prayer,' EFI said. Their condition was not immediately known Tuesday, March 10.
The attacker, identified as 25-year-old Rajesh Singh, was in police custody Tuesday, March 10, after churchgoers managed to caught him before he could kill himself or others, according to witnesses.
Police reportedly seized a pistol and four live cartridges from him and anti-Christian pamphlets protesting “forcible conversions”. It was not immediately clear if Singh acted alone. No group claimed responsibility for the attack, but the church and the pastor had reportedly received
death threats from nationalist Hindus.
EFI suggested that Sunday's violence was the latest in a series of attacks against evangelical Christians carried out by Hindu militants, who oppose the spread of Christianity in this mainly Hindu nation of over one billion people.
Also on Sunday, Match 8, suspected Hindu militants tried to raid the home of a pastor in the area of Unnao, in the state of Uttar Pradesh, EFI said. The pastor, identified only as Vimal, leads the Khristin Kalisia Church which has seen an increase of Christians, sparking anger among Hindu extremists, the group added.
After failing to break the door they launched a complaint with local police about the pastor's Christian activities, but the case was later dropped, EFI said.
A week earlier on March 1, police allegedly beat up a believer in Dehradun, the capital of Uttarakhand state, after local Hindus were disturbed by the worship services of the House of Fellowship Church.' The Christians have reportedly shifted their meeting place to another believer's home.
It comes at a time when the government is under international pressure to tackle extremism against India's minority Christians.