Christians protest against a Jan. 20 attack on Protestant pastors by local thugs allegedly linked to ruling Awami League party over a disputed pond in Gopalganj district of Bangladesh. (Photo supplied)
Three Protestant pastors were assaulted and an inter-church gathering disrupted by thugs in Bangladesh in a row over a disputed pond.
The three pastors were beaten with sticks and punched on Jan. 20 during an annual volunteers meeting at the St. Mothurnath Assemblies of God (AG) Church in Gopalganj district, south west of the capital Dhaka.
The clerics were catching fish in the pond adjacent to their church when they were set upon by up to five men. All three suffered cuts and bruises.
A dispute over the pond between the church and local politicians from the ruling Awami League party has been ongoing since 2014.
"Since 1948, the church has been the legal owner of the property and we have all the documents to prove it. Some politicians have been trying to grab it since 2014," Anukul Biswas, pastor in-charge of the church told ucanews.com.
"We have protested against the assault in the strongest of terms," he added.
Church authorities filed a case with local police immediately after the assault on Jan. 20 against five persons but no one has been arrested yet, he said.
Mokhlesur Rahman, a senior local government official confirmed the pond was the legal property of the church.
Attacks against Christians over disputed property is nothing new, says Father Mintu Boiragi, convener of the Justice and Peace Commission in Catholic Barisal Diocese, which covers the area.
"In southern Bangladesh, Christians face pressure from influential locals as churches own property in many areas. Christians are a minority and powerless, so they are vulnerable to violence as they cannot do much against their aggressors," the priest told ucanews.com.