Times of India
MUMBAI, Nov 16: Around 20 men, allegedly from the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), barged into the prayer hall of a Christian sect at Bhayander at 12.30 pm on Saturday and stripped and thrashed the pastor in the mistaken belief that he was converting people to Christianity.
According to the police, eight men have been arrested for the attack on the prayer hall which belongs to the Church of God (from the Pentecostal Church). Incidentally, the prayer hall is adjacent to the Navghar police station at Bhayander, a bustling township just outside the city limits. The attackers, who also damaged the prayer hall and confined 20 persons attending the prayer meeting.
Raj Jaiswal (30), an eyewitnesses, told TOI that around 20 people, including 15 women, were in the prayer when someone knocked at the door. "We opened it presuming that more people may have come for the prayer," he said.
A mob of about 20 rushed in, shouting slogans such as, 'Jai Hind, Jai Maharashtra', said Jaiswal, a real estate broker who attended the prayer meeting. "They claimed to be from the VHP and said they had information that conversions were happening here. They hurled fithy abuses at us and beat us up," said Jaiswal.
Although a Hindu, he attends the prayer meetings for the past seven years since he believes the prayers cured of persistent body ache when doctors failed.
The mob stripped pastor Philip Fernandes and thrashed him "for trying to convert people". Jaiswal said that he then phoned a TV channel for help. "The reporters came in 15 minutes with police officials from the Kanakia police chowkie and Navghar police station who resolved the matter," he said.