Pastor Ramesh Khondual along with his wife, Sis Annapurna and 2 children live in Mandasa village in Srikakulam district of the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. This village lies in the border of the State of Odisha. Over 25 believers congregate every Sunday at the Church in Padampur for worship over the last few years.
On 07th January, Sunday, worship service was held at one of the believer’s house – Bro. Kalisadar, who resides at Guddipodra villa at Patrapur block, Gangjam District in Odisha. Around 20 believers had congregated and the meeting started at 10 am and concluded at around 2.30 pm. Suddenly a mob of religious fanatics along with the local villagers surrounded the house and brutally beat all the believers indiscriminately, with sticks and stones. 3 members suffered serious head injuries while one, a grievous injury to his eye.
Pastor Ramesh and his father suffered critical injuries and had to be hospitalized for treatment.
On the 8th, Police contacted Pastor and summoned him and the congregation, though badly injured, to the Police Station. The persecutors were also summoned. Police mediated over the situation and let off the persecutors without any charges. However, Pastor was arrested and detained at the Police Station on charges of conversion. A classic case where the victim is charged as the accused. Police accused him of visiting Odisha from Andhra Pradesh to convert people.
Pastor has been released on bail yesterday, 12th January. While narrating this incident to Persecution Relief, like a true shepherd he was concerned about the congregation and their protection. Persecution Relief extended financial support towards the hospital treatment of all the believers who were injured.
Church please pray for Pastor that he could continue to lead his congregation boldly and without fear, feeding them, leading them, teaching them to stay together, and protecting them. Arresting the victim also sends a strong message to the abuser and reinforces his notion of power and control.
Please also pray for the Administration and Judiciary to be unbiased and show genuine care for victims.