(Morning Star News) – Pastor Sagar Baizu, 46, had finished one meeting and had an hour before the next one, so he decided to stop at a café on a major thoroughfare in Kathmandu, capital of Nepal, on July 19.
As he was about to sip a coffee in the crowded café at 2 p.m., six to eight men suddenly attacked the spokesperson and co-general secretary of the Federation of National Christians in Nepal (FNCN) from behind.
“They beat me for a minute and a half and suddenly fled the site,” Pastor Baizu told Morning Star News. “They said, ‘We will blast your church and all the churches with bombs and shoot you and all your leaders.’”
He became dizzy from many blows to his head by two of the assailants and could not see the faces of any of them, he said.
“I just could not understand what was happening to me for about 10 minutes after the assault,” the pastor said.
After cafeteria staff members helped him regain his bearings, Pastor Baizu informed police, who arrived in about 20 minutes.
Though he sustained no visible injuries, he received immediate medical attention, and doctors advised him to wear a neck brace for a week and to rest his head as much as possible.
Pastor Baizu, who has headed Anugrah Vijay Church (Grace Victory Church) in Budhanilkantha, Kathmandu District, for 23 years, filed a report on the assault with police, and the chief district officer has taken it seriously, he said.
Police registered a case against six to eight unidentified men under “attempt to murder” and “threat of bomb blast,” he said. The chief district officer instructed Kathmandu Valley police to provide security to the pastor, and policemen have been deployed outside his church building and residence. They told him to inform security personnel whenever he leaves home.
Pastor Baizu has been advocating on behalf of Nepali Christians for more than 10 years.
“I am the official spokesperson of the Federation of National Christians in Nepal and have been speaking about the rights of the church for many years now,” he said. “This is not the first time that I have received threats.”
Asked if the attack could have resulted from personal animosity, Pastor Baizu said he had no personal enemies, and that he had no doubt he was assaulted for his boldness to “stand for the church and with the church.”
“This is persecution that came because of my Christian activism,” he said. “They spoke about bombing the church and killing the Christian leaders. Otherwise they would have never spoken like this.”
He was a high-profile advocate for Tupek Church in Kathmadu after a bulldozer arrived to demolish its building about four months ago. The pastor also recalled how four Christians were jailed for a week after a mob of Hindu extremists assaulted them for singing Christian songs on a roadside.
The hard-line Hindus held the young Christian men until police arrived, and officers arrested the four Christians and set the assailants free, he said. A case was registered against the four Christians, who were released on bail.
The assault on Pastor Baizu comes amid a rash of anti-Christian hostilities this year. He said increased threats on the Christian community in Nepal is a matter of great concern.
“Every day we hear about one or the other incident in Nepal,” he said, adding that the government is not doing enough to protect the rights of Christians, and that radical organizations are taking advantage of this laxity.
A team of Christian delegates recently met with Nepal’s home minister but were disappointed with the cold response, he said.