Hindu Extremist Attack on Home Traumatizes Pastor and Family

“If the attackers had managed to come into the room where the family was hiding, we would be looking at a much worse situation,” Pastor Kumar said. “I do not doubt that they would have killed the family.”

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NEW DELHI, October 29, 2019 (Morning Star News) – A Hindu extremist mob in northeastern India tried to kill a pastor and his family in an attack on their home Sunday night (Oct. 27), the church leader said.

At 1 a.m. on Monday (Oct. 28), Hindu extremists brandishing swords, bricks and rods broke through windows and the roof of the home of pastor Palathingal Joseph Johnson in the Rajasan area of Vaishali District, Bihar state, he said.

Members from the hardline Hindu groups shout in Chandigarh

“10 to 15 Hindu extremists shouting slogans of ‘Jai Shri Ram! [Hail, lord Ram]’ trespassed into my house,” Pastor Johnson told Morning Star News. “They were using vulgar language declaring that they will kill me and my children and will outrage my wife’s modesty.”

The assailants also carried wooden sticks and appeared to be drunk, he said. They were members of the Hindu nationalist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh or RSS, parent organization of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), he added.

Pastor Johnson, his wife Shalomi, and their four children ages 7 to 13 hid themselves in one of the rooms in their two-room house. The attack was well-planned, the 44-year-old pastor said.

“We heard their conversation from behind the closed door – they were talking like professional terrorists,” he said. “They did not call each other by name. They had divided themselves into three teams, and one of the attackers assigned tasks to the teams by saying – ‘A section – break the windows,’ ‘B section – break the cars,’ ‘C section – climb the roof.’”

Unable to break open the front door, they began to break windows, he said.

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“Soon we heard the noise of the glass breaking,” he said. “One team climbed the roof of our house, but they could not break open the roof to enter the house. So, they twisted the aluminum corrugated sheet and entered.”

The room where he and his family were hiding did not have a latch on the inside, so the pastor hid his children under the bed while he and his wife braced themselves against the door, holding it shut with all their strength.

Pastor Johnson first tried calling the police emergency number but could not get through, he said. He then called a Christian in their neighborhood and asked her to gather people to help.

“While my wife and I caught hold of the door from inside, the attackers were pushing the door from outside trying to open it,” Pastor Johnson told Morning Star News. “That moment I could see death face-to-face. A delay of two more minutes would have cost us our lives.”

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The Christian he had called reached the house with 50 other villagers just in time, he said. “The Hindu extremists fled from our home when they saw a mob larger than their numbers,” he said.  Though traumatized, his three daughters, ages 13, 12 and 9, and his 7-year-old son were very brave and did not cry out, he said.

“Along with us, they constantly kept on chanting, ‘There is victory in the blood of Christ,’” he said.

Pastor Johnson came out of hiding to find his home and cars damaged. The attackers had used bricks and thick wooden sticks to break the house windows and the windshields and doors of his two parked cars. They also ruined a toilet, he said.

An activist and the presbyter of Indian Pentecostal Church in Nalanda Patna, pastor Gautam Kumar, said the assailants took advantage of area residents celebrating the Hindu festival of Diwali, as the sound of their firecrackers late at night hid the sound of the break-in.

Diwali
Diwali Celebration 

“If the attackers had managed to come into the room where the family was hiding, we would be looking at a much worse situation,” Pastor Kumar said. “I do not doubt that they would have killed the family.”

Pastor Johnson, who has been living in the area for more than 10 years, leads the Set Free Church, where between 50 and 100 people attend worship every week. His home has a hall where the worship service is held on Sundays and two adjoining rooms where the family lives.

He also oversees an orphanage in the nearby Hajipur area, Pastor Kumar said. 

Two policemen have been deployed outside the pastor’s home, and five members of his church volunteered to stay with him and his family for their protection, he said.

A First Information Report (FIR) was registered after initial investigation, case No. 427/19, dated Oct. 28, under Indian Penal Code sections for rioting, rioting armed with a deadly weapon, unlawful assembly, criminal trespass, house-trespass, promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion and outraging religious feelings.

The case was to be investigated by Assistant Sub-Inspector Jaykumar Singh.

A policeman at the Bidupur police station who declined to give his name told Morning Star News that the FIR has been registered but no arrests have been made.

HIndu Police
Hindu Police Officers

Distressed by the rising number of attacks on Christians in Bihar and in the country as a whole, Pastor Kumar told Morning Star News that he is heart-broken.

“A handful of people in our country are spreading false propaganda against the Christian community and are polarizing the masses with false information that Christianity is a foreign religion, and that Christians are anti-nationalists,” he said. “It is heart-breaking that the masses are believing this lie, and thus Christians are being targeted throughout the country.”

Pastor Johnson said that he previously had received several mild threats and warnings from Hindu extremists and could sense that trouble in some form was forthcoming, he never imagined it would be this severe. The last time he had been threatened was six months ago, he said.

“I knew persecution will come and I was mentally prepared to face it, but I had never thought it would be scary like this,” he said. “I saw my death before my eyes, and the thought of my wife and children dying with me was even scarier.”

 

Article originally published by Morning Star News

Edited by Babylon Today

Hindu Extremists Beat Pastors, Stop Gospel Event in Chhattisgarh State, India

“In the police station, we were forced to sign a letter handwritten by the activists …

Berating and slapping two pastors into signing an apology letter before police, Hindu extremists stopped a planned three-day gospel meeting in Chhattisgarh state, India minutes before it was to begin, sources said.
 
Hindu nationalists beat pastor Vijay Jogi and pastor Santosh Rao minutes before the start of the first meeting, where about 1,000 people had gathered at the Railway Grounds in Charoda, Durg District on Nov. 16, pastor Amos James told Morning Star News.
 
“Pastor Vijay Jogi and Pastor Santosh Rao were receiving the people at the entrance,” Pastor James said. “Suddenly a mob of 70 Hindu Dharm Sena and Bajrang Dal activists gheraoed [encircled] the entrance, and Pastor Jogi and Pastor Rao were beaten and summoned to the police station.”
 
Pastor Jogi told Morning Star News the hard-line Hindus were shouting, “Jai Sri Ram, Jai Sri Ram [Hail lord Ram].”

“The activists slapped Pastor Santosh Rao thrice and beat us both,” Pastor Jogi said. “By then we understood that these people will not let us conduct prayers.”
 
The 45-year-old father of two received a call from the Government Railway Police at around 6 p.m., minutes before the opening prayer. Police told him come to the police station immediately and warned him to call off the event, he said.
 
As in the previous 20 years, church leaders had obtained prior permission from both the railway and the railway police to conduct the event, a campaign that in past years has seen many people turn to Christ, he said. The Hindu extremists claimed organizers also needed permission from the sub-judicial magistrate.
 
“In the pamphlets we distributed earlier inviting people to attend the meeting, I quoted Luke chapter 7 and verses 22 and 23,” Pastor Jogi said. “The Hindu activists began arguing with us, ‘You are promoting blind beliefs. How can lame walk? How can deaf hear? How can you raise the dead? When your God can do all this, why are you people going to the doctors then?’

“They told me it is very wrong that I have written these lines. I said, ‘I did not write these words. It’s a verse taken from the Holy Bible and applies to the entire humankind.”’
 
Pastor Jogi tried telling them that in those verses Jesus Christ was telling John the Baptist the things people had seen and heard, and they told him, “We are offended by these lines,” he said.
 
“For which I immediately responded with apologies,” he said, telling them, “If because I quoted these lines in the pamphlet, it is offending you at personal level, I apologize to you brothers. We are very sorry!”
 
They then questioned them about permission, and Pastor Jogi showed them the railways and Grounds Railway Police permission letter, he said. They told him they needed permission from the sub-judicial magistrate.

“For past 20 years the Railway Grounds has been the venue for gospel meetings, and like every year we only had permission from the Railways and Railway Police since this area falls under the jurisdiction of Charoda Railway Police Station,” Pastor Jogi told Morning Star News.
 
The Hindu Dharm Sena and Bajrang Dal extremists took them to the police station, as even the Railway Police, for the first time, started questioning whether they had received permission from the sub-judicial magistrate, he said.
 
“The police told me to settle the matter here and stop the event immediately,” Pastor Jogi said. “I was cautioned while Pastor Rao and I were in the police station that the activists are tearing and burning the banners, breaking the tube lights, chairs and dismantling the stage. The police officer told us even if he lodged a case [against the extremists], it would go strongly against us, and that even he can’t help it. The police did not register an FIR.”

Church leaders had made elaborate preparations to make the facilities ready for the event, but federal and state governments are against Christianity, Pastor Rao said.
 
“There is very little hope for Christians in a situation like this,” said Pastor Rao, who in 2012 was falsely accused of forcible conversion. “In the police station, we were forced to sign a letter handwritten by the activists under the supervision of BJP [Bharatiya Janata Party] worker Rajguru Ghosale. The letter said by conducting this meeting we hurt the feelings of Hindus, we sincerely apologize for it and cancelling the event. They slapped me to sign it.”
 
In the presence of police, the Hindu extremists repeatedly badgered the pastor with questions, Pastor Jogi said, asking them, “Why are you calling Hindus to your events? Why are you conducting open gospel meetings publicly? Why are you converting Hindus?”

“Right in front of the police they warned, ‘You must never go to a Hindu’s house, you work among the Christians only,’” Pastor Jogi told Morning Star News. “I told them our Christian meetings and gatherings are open for all. I don’t ask each person who attends the prayers whether they are a Muslim or Hindu. When we gather, it is in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ we gather, and His arms stretch out to everybody.”
 

Christians in Charoda are living in fear and have not filed any case against the Hindu extremists or police, sources said.  
 
Attorney Son Singh Jhali told the Christian leaders that they could take action against the extremist forces and police, but the pastors declined, he told Morning Star News.
 
Hindu nationalist groups have gathered several times in Charoda, plotting how to attack Christians, a source who requested anonymity told Morning Star News. Local BJP leaders supply alcohol to youth and instigate them to attack Christians in the state, the source said.
 

“My daughters, ages 13 and 5, ask me, ‘Why is there so much opposition to the gospel, Dad? Why do they hate Jesus? They hate us because we are Christians?’” Pastor Jogi said with tears in his eyes. “I tell them, ‘They may hate Him, but the Lord still loves them. And, we must love everyone just as our Lord is loving us.’”
 

The pastors prayed after the forced cancellation of the gospel event.
 

“We will conduct the gospel meetings again in May. We are not giving up this time. With permissions from all the authorities and government officials, we will conduct the meetings,” Pastor Jogi said. “The activists are following me wherever I go. I know there is threat to my life. But I have dedicated my life fully to my Lord’s work, and I will be at it till my last breath.”

Since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took power in May 2014, the hostile tone of his National Democratic Alliance government, led by the Hindu nationalist BJP, against non-Hindus has emboldened Hindu extremists in several parts of the country to attack Christians, religious rights advocates say.

Officials, Police in India Halt Worship in 10 Churches

“It is a well-planned conspiracy against the Christian community, as the Hindu extremists know that it is not easy to approach the collector’s office for such permissions,”

NEW DELHI (Morning Star News)  Officials and police in Tamil Nadu state, India, have ordered 10 churches to discontinue worship services, sources said.

Hindu extremists compelled state officials and police to issue orders to the churches in Coimbatore District to stop worship unless they obtain permission from the collector’s office, and the extremists intend to target 20 others in the same way, church leaders said.

“It is a well-planned conspiracy against the Christian community, as the Hindu extremists know that it is not easy to approach the collector’s office for such permissions,” pastor Johnson Sathyanathan, president of the Synod of Pentecostal Churches of Coimbatore, told Morning Star News. “The time to get such approvals can stretch from a year and a half to many more years.”  The district revenue officer (Tehsildar) told church leaders that orders against six churches were issued on the complaint of members of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a Hindu nationalist, paramilitary organization widely regarded as the parent organization of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party. Orders were issued in one case based on a complaint by the Hanuman Sena, a fairly new Hindu extremist group.  

A Christian delegation met the minister of Internal Affairs of Tamil Nadu early last week and expressed concern and fear about the recent notices. The state minister on Oct. 24 called on the deputy superintendent of police and the local Member of the Legislative Assembly of Sulur to look into the matter and take steps to ensure that the worship services can resume, Pastor Sathyanathan said.

“Altogether there are 10 churches that have been directly affected in the last two months,” he said. “They are all residents of the area, and people have never had trouble with these churches before. These pastors have been doing ministry for many years now.”

Besides the six churches, another congregation, an Assemblies of God Church in Thennampalayam, was first targeted during its Vacation Bible School this summer, when the members of RSS attacked its van transporting children, assaulting three young people. The revenue officer has closed down the church based on a complaint by the RSS, saying the pastor must secure permission from the collector to continue worshiping.  

The pastor has been leading the church at its present location for more than five years.

Other Shut-Downs

In Myleripalayam, a police inspector called the pastor of an independent fellowship, Solomon Raja, following a complaint by members of the Hanuman Sena, and forced him to sign documents stating that he would “obtain proper permission” to continue worship services.

“This happened with Solomon on Sept. 1, and since then no worship service has taken place in his church,” Pastor Sathyanathan told Morning Star News.

In Mathampalayam, where pastor Vinod Kumar had constructed a small hall for church services, about 25 RSS members on Oct. 15 disrupted a church service and called police.

“The inspector deliberately vacated the church, and Kumar was ordered to stop conducting worship in the future,” Pastor Sathyanathan said.

Though no case has been registered against Kumar, he has been threatened with warnings to halt worship services or bear the consequences, he said.

In Kalampalayam, police accompanied by 20 RSS members approached a church leader identified only as Pastor Charles and ordered him to close down services until he obtained permission from the collector, Pastor Sathyanathan said.

In Sulur, pastor Selva Singh of Sultanpet has filed a case with police against the notice the revenue officer issued to him. A court has granted him one month’s permission to continue the regular church service, but with a condition that there should be no use of amplifiers during the service. The permission will be voided if there are complaints.

The court instructed Pastor Singh to obtain permission from local officials within one month.

Pastor Singh has been leading the area church for more than 10 years.

Demand to Re-Open Churches

Nearly 500 protesting Christians approached the district sub-collector and the superintendent of police on Oct. 11 and submitted a memorandum demanding protection and appealing for the churches to be re-opened.

Pastor Sathyanathan, who participated in the protest, told Morning Star News that the city superintendent of police flatly refused any support or action.

“They said that they can do nothing about it, and why should we create unnecessary trouble, that instead we should go ahead and get legal permission for our churches,” he said. “We had organized a day of silent protest on Oct. 21, but we were denied permission to carry it out, as they stated that it was a law-and-order situation.”

Clarifying reports that 30 churches had been targeted, Pastor Sathyanathan said Hindu extremists had yet to take action against 20 of them.

“The Hindu extremists have openly threatened Christians that they are going to do the same in 20 more churches of the area that they have done to these 10,” he said.

Since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took power in May 2014, the hostile tone of his National Democratic Alliance government, led by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), against non-Hindus has emboldened Hindu extremists in several parts of the country to attack Christians, religious rights advocates say.