A Hindu extremist strategy for stopping the spread of Christianity by targeting pastors – and their families – was painfully evident in a recent attack on a Christmas planning meeting in northern India.
As has become routine in India, police arrested badly beaten Christians and charged them with causing religious enmity, sources said.
Pastors from 12 churches in Agra, Uttar Pradesh state and from 10 churches in nearby Mathura were meeting, along with their families, in the Hotel Samover in Agra on Oct. 30 to plan a Christmas program when Hindu extremists arrived and began terrorizing them, sources said.
“They did not engage in any kind of dialogue with us but abruptly entered the hall where we were conducting our private gathering and ruthlessly attacked us,” pastor Ravi Kumar said of the assailants from the Bajrang Dal, the militant youth wing of the Hindu extremist Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council or VHP).
“They were shouting ‘Jai Shri Ram’ [Hail, Lord Ram]!” while they hit us black-and-blue, and some men from the mob tore the clothes of the women and dragged them by their hair,” Pastor Kumar told Morning Star News.
Young men were stationed on the staircase leading to the exit to beat those trying to escape, while other assailants waited at the reception area. Panic-stricken Christians running toward the exit could not escape; some who were beaten in the basement hall were caught at the staircase and beaten again, and then again at the reception area, sources said.
“They had brought along about 20 young men who were assigned the task of entering the hall and attacking the Christians with the weapons they carried and then immediately leaving the premises and disappearing,” Pastor Kumar said. “After they left, the middle-aged Hindu extremists began to create a scene and started to accuse us of carrying out conversions. Before the police arrived, the young men who had carried out the attack had left.”
The assault went on for 45 minutes before police from the Tajganj police station arrived – and arrested the Christians. Officers registered a case against the Christians within four hours of the assault while taking no action against the assailants, sources said.