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.
“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.
“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.”
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.