NEW DELHI, INDIA — Christians on Sunday, August 26, managed to free an evangelical pastor who was kidnapped by Hindu militants in Bangalore, India’s third most populous city, shortly after he was beaten and nearly killed, an official told BosNewsLife.
Pastor Mark Jaikumar, 43, was kidnapped in Bangalore late Saturday, August 25, and “taken in a bus by Hindu radicals who drugged him” before driving him to [the town of] Shakleshpur”, about 130 kilometers (81 miles) from the city, confirmed Sajan George, president of the Bangalore-based Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), a major advocacy group.
The incident happened “around 8pm local time near his residence in [the] Chelekere [area], near the ring road in Bangalore city,” he added. George told BosNewsLife that the Hindu militants tried to reach a Hindu pilgrimage center, but never managed to bring the pastor to that location.
“He became conscience in the bus and contacted us via a cell phone from a fellow passenger. Our [GCIC] people rushed to the place where he was held, and brought him back home,” where he arrived Sunday, August 26, “at about 4.30am local time,” George said. More details about the circumstances of his release were not immediately available, but it appeared that the kidnappers had left him behind in the bus, George added. “The pastor is currently unfit to answer more questions,” he said.
Kaikumar has been working in Bangalore for more than two decades as pastor and founder of Devinne Gospel Church with about 250 believers. He started a branch of his ministry in 2000 in Sasulu village, about 55 kilometers (34 miles) from Bangalore, and has been managing an orphanage with about 65 orphans, GCIC said. He is also pastor of Rays of Peace Ministry Church Bangalore, George explained.
Kaikumar’s kidnapping came just days after “an attempt to murder him” on Wednesday, August 22, underscoring concerns about reports of attacks against Christians in the Bangalore area and other regions of India.
George said the attack happened “Wednesday, August, 22, at about 10pm [local time] when the pastor along with his wife and some believers from Bangalore visited the orphanage for their weekly evening prayer with the inmates. While the prayer was on, a group of about five Hindu radicals rushed into the orphanage and [briefly] kidnapped the pastor after tying his mouth with a piece of cloth. The attackers took the pastor to a nearby mango garden [where] they stripped him and beat him all over his body.”
George said his group learned that, “After beating him, one of the attackers took a big stone to crush the pastor’s head. Suddenly the attackers could see a motor bike nearing them [and apparently] thinking that some one followed them, the attackers left the pastor and ran away.” He said the pastor “with great difficulty and pain” managed to reach the orphanage and informed other members, before being treated at a local hospital.
He added that the pastor “is still suffering from internal injuries…,” following the attack Wednesday, August 22. GCIC closely monitors the situation of his family, wife Francine Mark, 39, and daughters Jennifer, 18, Jessica, 15, Jennus, 11, and three-year-old Joys.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks against the pastor, but several radical Hindu organizations have openly expressed outrage about the spread of Christianity in India, a predominantly Hindu nation of about 1.1 billion people. (With reporting from India).
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