A church worship service was disrupted by a crowd of Hindu extremists, who attacked the pastor of the Church and dragged him to the police station on 3 September 2017 in Faridabad, the National Capital Region of Delhi.
Pastor Abraham Thomas associated with the Agape Gospel Mission conducted regular Sunday services in his rented church building. On Sunday 3 September while the service was still taking place, a mob of about 30 extremists belonging to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS – a Hindu right-wing organization) barged into his Church with wooden sticks.
“They came with wooden sticks and stood behind me as I preached from the Bible. Anticipating danger, I took out my cell phone and tried to call my Pastor-friend K G Mathew of Rehoboth Fellowship Church. Before Pastor Mathew could answer my call, the Hindu extremists snatched my phone from my hand along with my Bible and began to quarrel with me,” said Pastor Abraham Thomas to Global Christian News.
Thomas directed the extremists to another room to avoid traumatizing the congregation which was mostly children and young adults.
“While I was in the other room speaking to the Hindu mob, some of the Hindu extremists distributed some pages to the children of my congregation and forcibly clicked their pictures making them hold the paper in their hands,” said Thomas who was told about this later by members of his church.
The RSS-mob man-handled Thomas, pulled his hair and asked him the address of the Rehoboth Fellowship Church of Pastor K G Mathew.
“When I refused to tell the location of the Church, one of them caught me by my hand and dragged me towards their car which was parked few meters away from my Church. I persistently demanded my cell phone so that I could warn Pastor K G Mathew, but the man did not return my phone. Someone from amongst the extremists shouted ‘blacken his face… disgrace him by applying black paint on his face….put him to shame’. A crowd of about 300 people were standing and watching them drag me.
“They put me in the car and took me to the No. 3 Police post, where they narrated made-up stories about me and said that I forcefully convert innocent children,” said Thomas.
The police officer heard the complaints of the Hindu extremists but “I was not given an opportunity to speak, whenever I tried to speak, one of the policeman would shrug me and warn to assault me,” said Thomas.
“The RSS people intimidated me before the police staff and said, ‘Preach Ramayana in the Church, why preach Bible’, I refuted and said, why should I preach Ramayana,” he added.
After the police demanded a proof of ‘forceful conversion’, the RSS men produced the paper and the pictures of the children in the Church holding the paper in their hands.
“The RSS men told the police staff that I had distributed the paper to the kids and they handed a copy of the paper to the policemen.
“A policeman read the content of the paper aloud which shocked me. One of its statement was to foment communal violence. It stated that ‘let us use guns to shoot all the Hindus’”.
A journalist from the local newspaper accompanied the Hindu extremist to ‘record’ events.
Thomas defended himself before the police staff, denying any knowledge about the paper and said that as he belongs to Kerala, he is not even able to understand the entire content of the letter which was read to him.
“The police staff sensed this as a trick of the Hindu mob to entice me and thus they discarded the paper completely,” stated Thomas.
In the meantime, Pastor K G Mathew reached the police post to lodge a complaint against unidentified people who had vandalized the Rehoboth Fellowship Church. He came to know at the police post that it is the same mob who had damaged the entire property of the Church including chairs, tables, benches, musical instruments besides breaking the main door and the door of another room inside the Church.
“They broke the cross made from cement which was engraved above the door post of the Church and applied cow-dung on the desecrated cross”, said Pastor K G Mathew in an interview with Global Christian News.
Thomas returned from the police post in the evening, only to find that the land-owner of the property who is a Hindu ‘Pandit’ where Thomas conducted his Church for more than two years had thrown all his stuff outside the Church demanding Thomas to immediately vacate the property.
“I am very hurt and upset with all that happened. I have been working for the development of the entire community for the past 15 years, irrespective of what religion they
belong to. The local newspaper next day published the entire event favouring the Hindu extremists with false allegations on me. The Hindu mob entered my Church without my permission, intimidated me, clicked pictures of my Church kids and no action has been taken against them.
“My Church is shut down and I have not conducted any service since then.
“Do we as Christians ever enter a Hindu temple and create a ruckus, levying allegations on the priest and demanding explanations from them? If not, then who gives them the right to treat us this way?” questioned Thomas.