A Catholic priest has been arrested on false charges after being beaten up by a hard-line Hindu youth group in India’s Uttar Pradesh State. Father Vineet Vincent Pereira of Varanasi told ucanews.com that members of Hindu Yuva Vahini (youth force) came to his ashram in Gohana town in Mau district on Nov. 15 and attacked some of the elderly people living there with him.
“When I objected, they beat me. One pulled me down holding my hair and dragged out. Then they hit me left and right,” he said. Those gathered around rescued him, said Father Pereira.
Not long after the attack, police arrived and arrested him based on a complaint made by his attackers on charges of rioting and disturbing public peace. If found guilty, each charge carries a maximum jail term of two years.
A local court bailed the 43-year-old priest on the same evening.
Father John Abraham, the diocesan vicar general, told ucanews.com that the Hindu group must have been angry over Father Pereira’s popularity with Hindus who identify themselves as Christu Bhaktas (devotees of Christ).
Father Pereira lives a hermit-like existence and regularly conducts prayers for around 1,500 of these people at his ashram, said Father Abraham. “None of them have become Christians, but they follow Christian spiritual values.”