Mumbai, Nov. 11: Suspected VHP and Bajrang Dal activists disrupted the Holy Spirit Conference at Ryan International School, Malad, late last night — the third such incident in two months.
The intruders, carrying anti-conversion placards, shouted slogans against missionaries “who are converting innocents by force and guile”.
Witnesses claimed the hooligans smashed chairs, microphones and even windows of some cars parked at the venue before leaving with a stern warning “not to convert Hindus”.
The conference was attended by around 5,000 people. Stanley Thomas, an eyewitness, said the group was shouting anti-conversion slogans. “We tried to stop them but they forced their way in and started vandalising the hall and abusing those present,” he said.
Other witness said that they had to flee to save themselves from the hooligans. “They were throwing the mikes and scattering the pamphlets meant to be distributed among the gathering,” John Verghese said, adding: “The leaders of the congregation were asked to stop conversion by fooling people.”
But while the attack comes as no surprise, it is the police version of the incident that is puzzling. Police say they have as yet not been able to identify the men responsible for the fracas even as some of those present during the prayer iterated having identified some VHP and Bajrang Dal activists as being part of the mob. What the police conceded though was that the group of people were local residents.
“The residents must have felt that those gathered for the prayer were being fooled with false promises of miracles,” a senior police official said.