February 2017: A Christian pastor in India was left in a coma after being beaten in a “planned” attack apparently carried out by Hindu extremists.
Several young men reportedly pounced on the Rev Gandham Padma Rao, 49, in Medipally village, Telangana state, close to where he ministers.
Before slipping into unconsciousness, the pastor told police that the attack was religiously motivated. He stated: “They spoke to me in vulgar language: ‘You must never come to our village to pray. You should never enter our village.’”
A First Information Report was filed at Ramagundam police station, but his assailants were described as drunken youths. All references to the Hindutva group were removed from Pastor Rao’s statement.
Pastor Rao’s son, Samuel Mark, said the attack was “planned”: “My dad went to visit the families who had been attending our church over years now. He had no[thing] to do with the assailants.” He added: “He didn’t even respond to them when they shouted at him. All of a sudden, they began kicking him on the road.” The attack on the Rev Rao comes after his church’s cross and sound equipment were destroyed in 2015.