In a second shocking incident of violence against Christians in the month of February in the capital city of India, a year-long planned and well-organised ‘Peace Festival’ was attacked by Hindu extremists.
After launching their attack with sticks and rods on anyone present in the crowd they “disappeared” leaving several injured and causing huge damage to property.
In a two-day event organised from 23 till 24 February 2017, in collaboration by 12 Churches of Delhi and the National
Capital Region (NCR), by the Pastor’s and the youth of these regions in the Badarpur area of New Delhi, the first day witnessed around 1200 worshippers and the second day began with a gathering of about 1700 worshippers.
Emmanuel Masih, 36, the Pastor of Satsang Yeshu Ka Darbaar, one of the hosts of the event and a victim of the Friday assault, expressed his grief and displeasure over the attack and the response of the police while speaking to Global Christian News.
“The second day event had just begun and there were about 1700 men, women and children attending the convention. After the huge success of the first day, we were expecting more people to join in as the event proceeds,” said Masih who was the only person on stage and was the emcee of the event.
The guest speaker Pastor Michael Fernandes from Mumbai and the worship leaders Pastor Sunny Vishwas and Pastor Vijay Kothawale from Pune were soon arriving at the venue to begin the event for the second-day.
After the local youth worship team left the stage, Masih called upon the worshippers for a special time of prayer for the country and began to pray, when suddenly a mob armed with dangerous weapons rushed from the backstage towards the worshippers seated in front of the stage.
They were carrying iron rods, hockey sticks, axes and wooden sticks in their hands as they attacked.
“We were praying for India with our eyes closed, when we suddenly heard a lot of noise coming from the backstage which soon became clear as the sound of the attackers who suddenly appeared. The moment these attackers approached the crowd, around 200 men from amongst the worshippers stood-up and joined the assaulters in vandalising the property and beating the Christians present,” said Masih.
“They were spread in the entire crowd and they spared nobody. Thankfully, as they saw that the Christians did not retaliate, they did not use the sharp weapons to assault the worshippers,” added Masih.
Masih was unsure if the Hindu extremists were present in the guise of Christian worshippers even on the first-day of the convention.
Around 10-15 extremists from the assaulters climbed the stage and began to hit Masih with wooden sticks, hands, fists, foot and the chairs that were kept on stage and shouted slogans of “Bharat Mata Ki Jai” (Hail Mother India).
“They accused me of carrying out conversion and hit me so much that I started to bleed from my nose and mouth. Soon I was covered in my own blood,” added Masih.
What exasperated Masih and the other organisers of the event was that, even after taking prior permission from the concerned authorities and repetitive demand for police protection for the event, no protection was granted by the Delhi Police.
A written application requesting permission was submitted in the Sarita Vihar police station two months before the event and it was duly stamped and signed by the authorities.
“Two days prior to the event, the youth went to the area police station to enquire about the protection that the Christian community had requested, but the police refused to pay heed to their request and shooed them away,” said another source who wants to remain anonymous.
“The assault went on for about 15 minutes and the attackers disappeared after the assault as suddenly from amongst the crowd as they had entered,” said Masih.
The senior officials of the police department reached the venue few minutes after the assaulters had fled.
The police advised the organisers to carry-on with their program, and assured them that they would stay there to protect them from any further occurrence.
There was no way that the event could be continued revealed Masih, “The stage, curtains, PA system, other equipment including cameras and the whole set-up was vandalised.”
Christians were brutally assaulted and their cell phones looted by the Hindu extremists. “Though children were not directly attacked, they were manhandled and sustained injuries due to the stampede,” disclosed Masih.
Around 900 worshippers stayed and the rest left for first-aid and to their homes. The guest speaker and the worship leaders were instructed to return from mid-way.
The organizing committee of the 12 churches expressed their despair over the time, finances and resources that they had spent for one-full-year spent in systematically planning the convention.
A report was registered against the assaulters on 25 February. The police are studying the official video tape of the event.
There were many pictures and videos that were individually taken by the worshippers during the assault that went viral on social networking sites.
Masih sustained gruesome injuries on his face, nose, back, arms and lower back. He still has a scarred face and bruised body. Masih who has three young children leads the Satsang Yeshu Ka Darbaar Church in Tilpath, Faridabad.
In an earlier incident that took place on 10 February in Rohini, New Delhi, unidentified troublemakers broke into the St. Basil’s Church and stole 5000 Rupees from the donation box of the Church but not before desecrating the Holy Cross and an idol of Mother Mary. The entire incident was captured on CCTV cameras installed in an adjoining school. The two miscreants, both juveniles, were later caught and arrested.