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Posted Online on Friday, 8 September 2006 03:00 IST

Muslim Islamic NewsAnti-Christian Violence in India

The Milli Gazette Online

8 September 2006

An incomplete and Unofficial White Paper On Anti-Christian Violence in India - January to June 2006

[Sources include reporting by AICC activists Sampaul, Samson Christian, Madhu Chandra, and independent journalists Vishal Arora, Anto Akkara, Sarnews, Nirmala Carvalho, Vijayesh Lal, Fr Anand, and others. With thanks also to Christian Solidarity Worldwide, particularly David Griffith, All India Christian Council, All India Catholic Union, Evangelical Fellowship of India, IET, reports in The Hindu, Asian Age and others. I will be grateful for more information, and cases that may not have come to our notice. - John Dayal]

Christians in India continued to face widespread and violent attacks in India during the period between January and June 2006. This report is not intended to provide an exhaustive catalogue of these attacks; indeed many are thought to go unreported, owing partially to communication difficulties or the reticence of many church leaders in notifying the police. In particular, a number of additional attacks are thought to have taken place in Rajasthan, following the widespread harassment experienced by Emmanuel Mission International.

The incidents detailed in this report provide an indication of the nature and extent of the attacks suffered by the Christian community. The considerable vulnerability of many Christians is highlighted by the fact that a number of these attacks took place in their homes.

A number of recurrent themes emerge through these incidents and their aftermath. In some states, particularly those ruled by a BJP government, there is a consistent problem of impunity for attackers; this in turn undermines the confidence of the minority Christian community in the justice system. In most cases, attackers have been released on police bail, even after committing violent attacks. This indicates that the offences are treated with inadequate seriousness, and risks failing to provide an adequate deterrent to attackers.

The extent of police neglect, bias and violence gives cause for major concern. In Matiapada village, Orissa, two Christians arriving at the police station to register an arson attack on their homes, were instead questioned under the Orissa Freedom of Religion Act. Police refused to include the name of the village leader in the FIR, despite the persistent claim of the Christians that he led the attack against them. In Chapri village, Madhya Pradesh, a group of seven police led a violent attack on two tribal leaders. No disciplinary action is known to have been taken against the police responsible for the attack.

Andhra Pradesh

Nizamabad, 12 January: two pastors beaten by Sangh Parivar mob

Pastor M. Aaron and Madhu Kumar, of the Indian Pentecostal Church, were beaten by a mob of Hindu extremists numbering up to 100, while distributing Christian pamphlets during a convention of Bible students in Nizamabad Polytechnic. Their pamphlets were also burnt. The mob was led by Jaipal Reddy, a full-time worker from the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), a student wing of the BJP, and consisted of ABVP and RSS members. Pastor Aaron claimed that his attackers were carrying inflammable materials, intending to burn him alive.

Police registered a case against ten assailants, and attributed responsibility for the attack to the ABVP and RSS.

Domakonda village, Nizamabad, 13 January: pastors beaten by RSS

Ten members of the RSS stormed into the house where a birthday party of a Christian girl was taking place, and pulled the Christians outside the house before beating them. Pastor Nagani Swami David was kicked in the chest and abdomen, and fell unconscious. Thuddam Anil, Vanka Raju, Raikala Dayakar and Ramagalla Ramesh suffered stomach injuries. The attackers then transported Pastor David on their motorbike to the Pochamma Temple, where they left him. They then went to the police station to allege that they attacked him because he had been tearing down pictures of Hindu gods.

Police arrested and charged nine men in connection with the attack.

Badangpet village, Hyderabad, 28 February: Pastor Lavete Jacob beaten

Pastor Lavete Jacob was beaten with sticks by a mob of around fifteen assailants during the birthday celebration of a church member. He sustained a head injury and broken ribs during the attack, which lasted
20 minutes. Jacob's wife and daughters, and the fourteen year-old girl celebrating her birthday, were also beaten as they tried to defend him. The attackers tore down Christian posters and took away Bibles, threatening the Christians and telling them to leave the area.

Five men were arrested after a complaint was lodged with the police, but all were released on bail. Jacob had also been beaten on 18 February, and identified his attackers as the same on both occasions.

Nellore, 19 March: three Christians hospitalised after mob attack

A mob of around 30 attacked a group of Christians undertaking evangelistic work in the Pappula bazaar of Nellore, resulting in the short-term hospitalisation of three pastors, namely N. Nirmal Raj, T. Timothy and A. Ruben. In the analysis of local Christians, the attack was a reaction to the fact that a former RSS member was among the Christian team. He had reportedly been receiving threats since his adoption of Christianity.

A protest rally was held on 20 March by the United Pastors' Association of Nellore and the All India Christian Council, and a memorandum was submitted to local authorities, demanding the arrest of the attackers. Witnesses claimed that a man named Santosh Kumar, thought to be a member of a Hindu extremist group, led the attack.

A number of men were arrested and released on bail from the police station.

Jharkhand

Singhbhium district, 20 March: fifteen Christians attacked by Sangh Parivar

A Sangh Parivar mob assaulted fifteen Christians belonging to the Friends Missionary Prayer Band. According to local sources, the Christians were then told that they would be denied access to local water supplies.

Madhya Pradesh

Chapri village, Jhabua district, 25 January: tribal pastors beaten by police

A group of seven local police from the Kalidevi police station, Jhabua district, entered a Christian home in which a prayer meeting was due to be held, where they severely beat the two tribal pastors leading the meeting. Pastors Raj Singh Amblia (at whose home the meeting was being held) and Hateh Singh Rawat of the Philadelphia Church of Chapri, were then taken to the police station, with police repeatedly threatening dire consequences if they continued to gather for prayer or any other kind of 'Christian activity', and mocking their faith.

The men were then detained by the police, during which period they received further beatings, aimed at the neck, stomach and hands. This reportedly took place in the presence of Sub-Inspector Samrath Devanji. As a result of the beatings, they were taken to a hospital the following day, where they were denied access to medical treatment on the grounds they required written permission from the police.

No action is known to have been taken against the police involved in this incident.

Jabalpur, 26 January: communal violence against Christians

Three Christian leaders belonging to the Church of the Nazarene were arrested in Jabalpur on 26 January, for the forced conversion of tribals. According to sources in India, as the arrests took place, the pastors were being attacked and beaten by a mob, which had been incited by anti-Christian disinformation and sloganeering by Hindu extremists.

The arrests of Pravin Pawar, Sanat Pawar and Maclin Masih, were made after a group of Hindu extremists accosted around 23 tribals from Dindori, who were due to travel from Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh, to a Christian convention in Nagpur, Maharashtra. The tribals were forced to sign affidavits, stating that they were being forcibly taken to Nagpur by the pastors, against their will. The three pastors were then arrested on the strength of these statements, following pressure from the Hindu extremists, and charged under Section 420 of the Indian Penal Code and Article 4 of the Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act. The police also confiscated Christian literature and a number of other documents.

Regional media reports alleged that the tribals were being taken to Nagpur to forcibly convert them. There are fears that these reports could incite further violence against the Christian minority in this area.

Bhopal, 28 January: Hallelujah church meeting attacked by Hindu extremists

At least six Christians were injured during an attack on a prayer meeting being held in the home of Freddy Prasad, a member of the Hallelujah church living in the Govindpura area of Bhopal. A group of at least 30 people, armed with hockey sticks and rods, threw stones at the building and shouted anti-Christian slogans, accusing the organisers of being responsible for 'forced conversions', before beating the participants in the meeting. Pastor Sam Francis, the leader of the church, sustained fractures in his hands and legs. Kidshore Sadhwani suffered a fractured hand and a head injury, and reportedly also developed a blood clot and began vomiting blood. Sam Francis' vehicle and Freddy Prasad's scooter were also damaged during the attack, and the window panes of the house were smashed.

The Hindu militant group, Bajrang Dal, was believed to have been responsible for the attack, though members of the BJP state government attributed responsibility to a Bajrang Dal splinter group. On Sunday 5 February, members of the Bajrang Dal staged a procession against Sam Francis, during which his effigy was burnt and he was accused of converting the children in his church's orphanage.

Indore, 5 February: Christian evangelists beaten by RSS members

RSS members beat two Christian men for distributing Christian literature. They had locked themselves in a room of the church in the Kabeetkhedi area of the city, but their attackers forced open the door and beat them. One of the men was reportedly injured.

Police registered a case and began investigating the matter. However, no arrests are known to have been made.

Jabalpur, 17 March: Youth With A Mission students beaten by Hindu extremists

Four men interrupted a prayer meeting in a Youth With A Mission (YWAM) training centre in the city of Jabalpur, where they identified themselves as members of a government investigative agency and began questioning the trainees about YWAM activities. Shortly afterwards, twelve additional men entered the building, where they began to beat those present. Reportedly, six received minor injuries, and female trainees were subjected to sexual molestation. The attackers also destroyed Bibles and damaged electronic equipment, furniture and window-panes.

One of the attackers telephoned the owner of the house in which the training centre operated, reportedly identifying himself as a member of the Bajrang Dal. The police were telephoned and arrived to detain one of the attackers. The initial four intruders were also arrested but released on bail from the police station. Acting on the allegations of the attackers, police also registered a case against Mr Jacob, the proprietor of the house, under the Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act 1968.

Maharashtra

Ghosali village, Thane district, 29 January: Catholic school attacked by mob

A mob of Hindu extremists attacked the inauguration ceremony of a newly built Catholic school and hostel for tribals, by throwing stones into the crowd, breaking chairs and beating participants with sticks. The mob accused the staff of trying to convert people by offering education to their children, and reportedly chanted, 'Leave! We don't want Christians here!'

Three days prior to the opening ceremony, a VHP representative had allegedly called the police to urge that the Suryodaya Ashram school should not be opened. However, police did not inform the school of this, nor did they offer protection for the event. Although Fr Brendan Furtado telephoned the police, being beaten on his neck as he did so, they did not arrive for two hours.

Eighteen attackers were subsequently arrested and released on bail. The school feared a second attack, though police stationed 25 officers outside the school.

Nere village, Raigad district, 26 February: three pastors attacked by Bajrang Dal

Three pastors associated with the charity, Social and Evangelical Action for Love (SEAL), were attacked with crowbars by a Bajrang Dal mob of around 50. The Rev. K.M. Philip, the Rev. Biju Samuel and the Rev. Reggie Thomas were admitted into hospital after the attack.

Police registered an FIR against the attackers, who were released on bail from the police station.

Orissa

Matiapada village, Jajpur district, 16 January: Christian homes burned

A group of around fifteen Hindu extremists, incited and led by the BJP village head, attacked Pastor Kulamani Mallick as he sat with his wife and child, before setting fire to their home. He temporarily lost the sight in one eye after it was hit by a stone. Other Christians in the village were beaten with sticks and stones or bricks. Pastor Mallick's home was destroyed, along with seven adjacent houses (six of which belonged to Christians), which also caught fire.

Kulamani Mallick, with his cousin Gunanidhi Mallick, attempted to register a case against their attackers at the local police station. However, police officer Jagannath Pareda told them to remove the name of the village leader from the FIR, and became very angry when they refused to do so. They were detained and questioned under the Orissa Freedom of Religion Act, accused of conversion activities. Their interviewer insulted and threatened them because of their Christian faith. Kulamani Mallick reported losing faith in the police as a result of the manner in which his case was treated.

Five men were charged with the destruction of a property by fire, though the village leader was not among them.

Koikonda village, Malkangiri district, 24 January: missionaries attacked under RSS incitement

Ten Christian villagers were injured during a mob attack on a Christian home, at which a worship event had taken place the previous evening, attended by fourteen Christian families and four missionaries of the Indian Evangelical Team (IET). Reportedly, members of the RSS held a village meeting on the morning, after having heard singing emanating from the house on the previous evening. Immediately after the village meeting, a mob of around 50 converged upon the Christian home, and demanded that the four IET missionaries come out of the house. They were severely beaten, together with other Christians in the house. Missionaries Vijay Kumar, who lost consciousness for three days, and Baldas Gopal, were hospitalised with serious internal injuries.

While village pastor Salvam Samu tried to lodge an official complaint on 26 January, police informed him they were 'too busy' to talk to him. One of the IET missionaries, Ramesh Sulah, registered a written complaint on the following day, but police failed to provide him with a carbon copy, as required by law. Fearing further attacks, the Christians did not meet together on the following Sunday.

Two men were arrested in connection with the incident and subsequently bailed, though reportedly the main assailants avoided arrest.

Nandapur, Koraput district, 20 March: church burned down

The church in Nandapur was targeted in an arson attack while its pastor was absent from the village. Local Christians suspected Hindu extremists to have been responsible for the attack. At the time of the report, the church leader was pursuing legal redress.

Rajasthan

January-March: institutions of Emmanuel Mission International repeatedly harassed and attacked

A number of institutions and staff of the Emmanuel Mission International (EMI), which operates various charitable foundations in Rajasthan and across India, endured considerable harassment from Hindu extremists throughout the period January to March.

On 25 January, the leaders of the organisation, Archbishop M.A. Thomas and his son Dr Samuel Thomas, received anonymous death threats and were warned that the Emmanuel Seminary should not hold its annual graduation ceremony for over 10,000 orphans and Dalit Christians, scheduled for
23-27 February. This ceremony had been the target of a serious attack in 2005. On 10 February, police in Kota notified Emmanuel Seminary that no security would be provided for the ceremony, and advised that the event be postponed or cancelled.

On 14 February, the EMI headquarters in Kota suffered an attack, after a copy of the controversial book, Haqeeqat (The Truth) was discovered on the premises. The book, which has been banned, reportedly contains derogatory references to Hinduism. The house officer of Bhimgunj Mandi police station registered an official complaint against M.A. Thomas, Samuel Thomas and other EMI staff, under Indian Penal Code sections
153(a), which prohibits hurting religious sentiments, and 295(a), which outlaws deliberately outraging or insulting the religious feelings of a community (both offences are punishable by up to three years' imprisonment). On 20 February, the officer in charge of the Hope Centre Orphanage in Raipura, another EMI institution, and another officer, were detained without charges. During the arrests, police reportedly failed to intervene as an accuser beat one of the men.

Following these threats and harassment, EMI leaders decided to cancel the graduation convention. At the end of February, the licences of an EMI Bible institute, orphanage, school, hospital and church were revoked and, on 3 March, the Department of Social Welfare of Rajasthan ordered the freezing of their bank accounts. However, the Chief Minister has since intervened in this process.

On 3 March, extremist organisation Hindu Raksha Simity printed an advertisement, offering a reward of 1.1 million rupees (approximately 14,200/?20,360/$24,700) each, for the killings of M.A. Thomas and Samuel Thomas. Both men had gone into hiding. However, on 16 March, the latter was arrested in Noida, Uttar Pradesh state. Reportedly, police failed to adhere to proper procedure during the arrest, showing neither identity cards nor an arrest warrant.

The fact-finding team from the All India Christian Council concluded that the harassment has taken place with the complicity of the police and BJP administration. In particular, no action was taken against the published offer of a reward for the killings of M.A. Thomas and Samuel Thomas; neither was any protection offered so that the graduation ceremony could take place as planned.

Attacks on other EMI institutions also took place through February. On
2 February, a mob of Hindu extremists beat and stoned children, staff and local clergy at an EMI orphanage in Tindole. A child was reportedly killed as a result of the attack. On 10 February, a Hindu mob set fire to the EMI school and orphanage in Ramganjmandi, resulting in its total destruction. Reportedly, local police had warned the EMI authorities that they would not move to prevent the violence. On 22 February, an EMI primary school in Sanganer was attacked by Hindu extremists. On 24 February, a mob of Hindu extremists vandalised the Jhowara Emmanuel Secondary School and church building.

Uttar Pradesh

Ramchandrapur village, Sultanpur district, 24 January: pastor attacked by RSS mob and beaten in police custody

Pastor Ram Prakash and a number of others were assaulted by a mob of up to 200 Hindus, after Prakash was accused of converting local people to Christianity. Another Christian, Harish Chandra, managed to pull Prakash inside his house; however, the mob broke through the door and beat those inside.

Police arrived after having been called by Prakash, but he was arrested instead of his attackers. He was reportedly beaten while in police custody. Prakash was eventually released on bail, but Hindu extremists then accused him under Section 151 of the Indian Penal Code, for spreading communal tension.

Andhra Pradesh

Rampur Thanda village, Nizamabad, 8 June: Pastor Prem Kumar murdered

Pastor Prem Kumar, a lay preacher of the Church of South India (CSI) in Nizamabad was murdered after being approached by a young man requesting him to lead a prayer service in the village of Rampur Thanda. Pastor Kumar agreed, but before setting out he asked his son, Sunil, to contact him every thirty minutes. After two hours Sunil lost contact with his father. The family organised a search party in the evening and discovered Pastor Kumar's body in a forest near Rampur Thanda. He was identified by his clothes, because his head was crushed beyond recognition.

Police initially denied any religious motive to the murder. The case remains under investigation.

Nizamabad, 10 June: Christian missionaries beaten by Hindu extremists

A group of Christian workers from the organisation, Gospel for Asia, were beaten while showing a film on social issues such as HIV/Aids. Their equipment was also smashed, causing damage of considerable value. The Christians were not proselytising at the time of attack, though they had been involved in low-key evangelism in the area. GFA teams have faced previous attacks in Andhra Pradesh during the past two years.

Tirupati, 25 June: four nuns threatened by extremists and arrested

Four Missionaries of Charity nuns distributing food to impoverished patients at the Ruya Hospital, Tirupati were threatened by a large Hindu mob and accused of converting people. They were subsequently arrested, allegedly at the behest of Hindu extremists. The incident was preceded by a protest involving representatives of a number of Hindu extremist organisations.

The nuns were detained for a number of hours before being released after the intervention of the local diocesan bishop. A case has been registered against those who threatened the nuns.

Chhattisgarh

Kosa Nala, Bhilai district, 18 June: pastor and wife beaten and arrested

Around 25 alleged members of the Dharam Jagran Sena raided the Hosanna Church in Kosa Nala during a service, and physically assaulted Pastor David Raj. He was then dragged out of the church, where a rubber tyre was put around his neck and set on fire. The pastor's wife, Ratna Jyogi, was also severely beaten, and his was Bible stolen, together with his mobile telephone and 3000 rupees (approximately 35/?50/$65).

Pastor Raj was forcibly taken to Supela police station, where he was detained. His wife was later arrested by a male policeman at night and brought to the police station. The couple were charged on the following day under sections 295A(i), 153A(ii) and 34 of the Indian Penal Code, and under sections 3 and 4 of the Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act. The district magistrate initially rejected the bail application filed by the lawyer representing the couple.

The charges were allegedly filed on the basis of statements fraudulently obtained from two frightened Christian women, who reportedly believed they were signing a document to confirm their presence at the venue when the incident occurred. In reality, the statement alleged that Pastor Raj and his wife had offered the women material incentives of money and a motorcycle to convert to Christianity. Local Christians dismissed the viability of this allegation, on the basis of the poverty of Pastor Raj and his wife.

The attack took place an hour after representatives of the National Commission for Minorities departed the state, following their investigation into anti-minority attacks. Local Christian sources suggested that the timing of this attack was evidence of Hindu extremist contempt for the investigation.

An FIR was filed against the attackers, and three men were subsequently arrested but immediately released on bail. Pastor David Raj and his wife were released on bail on 22 June but have been required to report regularly to the police while their case is pending.

Bothli village, Durg district, 25 June: prayer meeting attacked by extremists

A group of around 30 alleged members of the Hindu extremist Dharam Jagran Sena raided a prayer meeting being held by six Christian families, shouting anti-Christian slogans and brutally beating those present. Among the main victims was an eight-month pregnant woman, who was rushed to hospital with internal injuries. However, the hospital declined to treat her and she was discharged.

Police also refused to take action against the perpetrators. The attack occurred in the wake of a number threats from the Dharam Jagran Sena received during the previous month. When the Christians attempted to register a complaint about this, the Hindu extremists began to harass them. Police allegedly refused to take action on the basis that they had received orders not to register complaints from Christians. Christians have continued to experience harassment in the village.

Jharkhand

Dubalia, Ranchi, 21 May: Christian family forced out of village by animists

A newly-converted Christian, Santosh Karmali, was forced by tribal animist believers during a meeting of the Dubalia panchayat (village council) and the Central Sarna Committee to sign a document forfeiting his right to the land of his family. Karmali had belonged to a Sarna religion prior to his conversion. Karmali's wife, Shiva Devi, was tonsured, lime powder was applied to her face and she was paraded around the village. The family was then forced out the village, and the Sarna samiti committee took possession of the family land. Sandeep Oraon, general secretary of the Dubalia tribal group, stated that the accusation would be spread throughout the village that Christian humanitarian efforts were aimed solely at converting tribal people. No further details on this case are known.

Karnataka

Bantaguri, Mangalore, 16 April: pastor and wife beaten by Bajrang Dal

A group of between 10-15 men thought to be from the Bajrang Dal attacked the Believers' Church in Bantaguri, Mangalore district, during their Easter Sunday service. The attack resulted in a head injury and fractures in both hands for Pastor V.P. Paulouse, and his wife was also severely beaten. The church hall was ransacked and later, the pastor's house and car were vandalised. The Christians were threatened with further attacks if they should continue meeting to pray.

An FIR was registered at the Bantwal town police station, but those subsequently arrested were alleged by members of the church to have had no involvement in the incident. Following public interest in the case, police assured Christian leaders that such an episode would not be repeated.

Balmatta, Mangalore, 16 April: Prayer hall ransacked, Christians threatened

A mob of between 25-30, believed to be Bajrang Dal members, vandalised equipment and threatened women and children during a raid on a prayer hall of the Living Faith Ministry in Balmatta, Mangalore. Prior to the assault, around ten men wielding cricket bats had visited the location. The attack took place after the men had left the meeting, and a special event was taking place for women and children. The assailants locked the doors, threatened the Christians present and smashed furniture, musical instruments and other equipment, causing an estimated 150,000 rupees' (approximately 1770/?2560/$3250) worth of damage.

An FIR was lodged against the attackers at Kadri police station, for unlawful assembly, rioting with weapons, vandalism, house trespass, criminal intimidation, and defiling a place of worship. Six arrests were made, but Christians asked to identify these men confirmed that they had not been involved in the attack, and all were released. No further arrests have been made.

Thovaracare village, Tumkur district, 8 June: Christians threatened with death by Bajrang Dal

Seven members of the Bajrang Dal broke up a prayer meeting in Thovaracare village and chased away the pastors Ravi and Umesh, threatening them with death if they should return. They also threatened the other Christians present with beatings and death if they should return to their church. A mob of around 40 Bajrang Dal members waited for the return of the two pastors that evening, though they had returned to Tumkur. They then searched the houses of Christians to ensure they were not hiding the pastors.

The village panchayat forged a compromise between the Bajrang Dal and the Christians, and the police were not involved.

Bethumangala, Kolar Gold Field, 9 June: church bulldozed by Hindu extremists

Hindu men destroyed a church in Bethumangala with a bulldozer, after threats failed to coerce the Christians into leaving the area. Pastor Aaron had been ordered by the leader of the attackers, a man named Minirathana, to cease his work and leave Kolar Gold Field; when he refused, he was beaten. The attackers then left and returned shortly with a bulldozer. The land was subsequently sold to Minirathana by its owner.

Although Pastor Aaron registered a complaint with the police about the attack, no action was taken against the assailants. Instead, the police sub-inspector and the local MLA ordered the pastor under duress to accept a compromise, which he did not accept.

Namthi village, Devangere district, 11 June: pastor arrested and beaten

Independent Christian pastor Sundar Rao was seized by a mob of around
150 people after leading a prayer meeting, and forcibly taken to Namthi police station, where he was severely beaten with the apparent complicity of police. He was forced by his attackers to sign a blank piece of paper, and was also informed that land he had purchased for the construction of a church would be used for the building of a temple. Rao remained in the police station overnight, fearing the crowd outside the building. The following morning, a BJP MLA arrived to urge police not to release Rao. However, he was released during the afternoon of 12 June, with no protection, and was assaulted by a mob outside the building. Although he embarked a bus, this was stopped and he was beaten again.

Police refused to register a case when Rao's wife went to the police station on 13 June. A case was eventually registered by the Devangere district police headquarters. A number of attackers were arrested but released on bail.

Madhya Pradesh

Naudara Bridge, 5 April: Christian school stormed by Dharam Jagran Sena

The Christian high school run by the Methodist Church at Naudara Bridge was stormed by members of the Hindu extremist group, Dharam Jagran Sena, who accused staff members of forced conversions. A former teacher, Ramakant Mishra, had arrived at the school just ahead of the DJS, claiming to have been forced by staff at the school to convert to Christianity. He filed a case against three staff at Omti police station on the same day. Similar claims had been made by Mishra in
2002 but were deemed by police to be unfounded. When he worked at the school, he allegedly threatened to make such claims if he was not promoted.

Police and the Madhya Pradesh State Minorities Commission launched an investigation into Mishra's claims, but found them to be false. No further action is known to have been taken.

Thaiyavali Chowk, 6 April: school staff assaulted by Dharam Jagran Sena

Christ Church Boys School at Thaiyavali Chowk was stormed by members of the Hindu extremist Dharam Jagran Sena angered by the school's decision not to close for the Hindu festival, Ram Navmi. The extremists accused the Christians of anti-nationalism, physically assaulted a teacher and threatened headmaster Ladly Matthew. However, the school did not register a complaint with the police.

Jabalpur, 7 April: Christian protesters beaten by Dharam Jagran Sena

Members of the Hindu extremist Dharam Jagran Sena beat around 25 Christian protesters outside a police station, following the arrest of seven Christians under the Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act, the state's anti-conversion law. The Rev. Kishan Singh, pastor of the church whose prayer meeting had been broken up by police, led a group of Christians to the station, but they were blocked by a mob of around
80 people shouting anti-Christian slogans. The mob beat and kicked the Christians, with the police reportedly watching. The attack resulted in injuries to at least seven Christians.

Although the Christians reported the names of eight attackers to Superintendent Srinivas Rao, no action is known to have been taken against them. The seven Christians were released the following morning, though police continued an investigation against them.

Gwarighat, Jabalpur, 1 May: Christian social worker falsely charged of forced conversions

Social worker Sunil Kumar Rao claimed to be the victim of collusion between police and Hindu extremists to accuse him of forcibly converting people in violation of the state anti-conversion law. He was arrested while teaching a class of twenty children of manual labourers in a slum area of Jabalpur, and searched for incriminating materials as police accused him of intending to convert the children to Christianity.

He was taken to the Gwarighat police station, where a number of VHP and Bajrang Dal members arrived and allegedly manhandled him. Police then drew a number of items from his bag which had not been found during the first search, to provide evidence for the case against him. Rao claimed these items had been planted by police. Police then took statements from two men, Puranlal Ahirwar and Dharmendra Ahirwar, pertaining to his alleged conversion activities by 'force' and 'allurement', but Rao claimed never to have interacted with either man.

Rao was released on bail after giving a statement.

Jabalpur, 2 May: pastor physically assaulted and arrested

An independent Pentecostal church leader, Pastor Andreas Soni, 60, was repeatedly slapped by members of the Bajrang Dal as he distributed Christian literature in Jabalpur, causing minor facial injuries. He was then arrested by Jabalpur Railway Police under the state anti-conversion law, after an FIR was registered against him by Inspector Akhil Verma for allegedly offering money to convert to Christianity.

The pastor was released on bail on payment of 5,000 rupees
(approximately 60/?85/$110). Following the arrest, Madhya Pradesh Minorities Commission member Indira Iyengar claimed that no evidence had existed to implicate Soni in 'allurement' to convert others, and asserted the right to propagate religion under Article 25 of the Indian Constitution.

Dhana Kamaria, exact date unknown: inter-religious wedding attacked by Hindu extremists

A marriage ceremony between a Christian man and a Hindu woman in Our Lady's Church, Dhana Kamaria, was disrupted by Hindu extremists, who physically assaulted and insulted bride Deepmala and brutally beat bridegroom Robin Das.

An FIR was filed against the attackers and the case remains under investigation.

Gaur Nadi, Jabalpur, 14 May: church attacked by Dharam Jagran Sena

An estimated 50 members of the Dharam Jagran Sena attacked Anant Jeevan Marg church in Gauri Nadi village, Jabalpur district, after the Sunday service on 14 May. The attackers threw stones at the building and vandalised furniture and equipment, while shouting anti-Christian slogans. They also beat church member Dinadath Tiwari, who had recently converted to Christianity, and assaulted Pastor Munnu Kujur, who denied that his church was converting people by force. His attackers threatened to throw acid in his face and to bomb his church if he did not stop converting people to Christianity.

The attackers accused the church of undertaking forcible conversion, and confiscated all the church Bibles as purported evidence of their distribution to convert people. They then brought Pastor Kujur to Barela police station where they lodged a formal complaint against him. He was detained under the Madhya Pradesh anti-conversion law but released after local Christians paid his bail fee.

Local Christian leaders filed a complaint against four assailants, namely Yogesh Agarwal, Sudhir Agarwal, Kedar Namdev and Indra Bham, who had also allegedly attacked a house church on 7 April. The case remains under investigation.

Nadia village, Khargone, 28 May: two Christian women gang-raped

Two Christian women were gang-raped by a group of five Hindu extremists. One of the women was reportedly seven months pregnant at the time of the attack. The husbands of the two women, who attempted to defend their wives, were beaten with sticks. Family members were subsequently threatened with further attacks and death if the matter was reported to the police.

The attack took place in the context of Hindu extremists attempting to force a village Christian to renounce his faith. On the afternoon of
28 May, Gokharya Barela, husband of one of the rape victims, had been beaten and forcibly taken to neighbouring Sirvil village, where the panchayat (village council) forced him to drink alcohol, taboo for many tribal Christians, and demanded that he surrender his faith. When he refused, he was warned to leave the village. According to reports, the Sirvil village head, Pandya Patel, told villagers that they could rape Christian women, whom nobody would save.

Initially police refused to register an FIR against the attackers. The case was eventually registered at the intervention of the district administration, but no action has yet been taken against the perpetrators. Instead the police superintendent and district magistrate reportedly claimed they could take no action as this was a matter concerning religious conversions, and the police report did not acknowledge that a rape took place.

Mayapuri, Ujjain district, 4 June: prayer meeting attacked by Bajrang Dal & pastor detained

A mob of around 50 alleged Bajrang Dal members raided a prayer meeting held at the home of local Christian Ramesh Thakur, shouting anti-Christian slogans before accusing Pastor Jagdish Bharti of destroying the Hindu religion and demanding hat he renounce his faith and worship the Hindu god Bajrang, or Hanuman. The attackers then forcibly took all 25 at the prayer meeting to a nearby Hindu temple, where they compelled them to bow before the idols. The nine women present at the meeting were threatened with rape if they should continue attending Christian prayer meetings. The attack came after three months of close surveillance and threats against Thakur and Pastor Bharti by Hindu extremists.

Subsequently, police arrested fifteen of the Christians, and Pastor Bharti was charged with 'deliberate and malicious intention of outraging ... religious feelings' under Section 295A of the Indian Penal Code. Pastor Bharti alleged that police encouraged the Hindu extremists to physically assault him the next time he was found proselytising. He was released on bail of 20,000 rupees (approximately 235/?340/$435) on 6 June. The fourteen others were released after four hours of interrogation.

Jabalpur, 6 June: Christian woman threatened by extremists in police station

Members of the Dharam Jagran Sena, led by Yogesh Agarwal, openly threatened and shouted anti-Christian slogans at a woman arrested under the Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act, allegedly on the basis of false charges. The Hindu extremists shouted that Christians should be kicked and killed, and were unopposed by the police who allegedly laughed with them.

The complainant, Guddu Usram, later confessed to the arrested woman, Meera Bai, that he had been forced by members of the Dharam Jagran Sena to register the complaint.

Meera Bai was later released on bail, after the fee of 5000 rupees
(approximately 60/?85/$110) was paid.

Maharashtra

Khopate village, Uran, 11 April: Christians severely beaten during VHP raid

A group of around 50 VHP members seriously assaulted two pastors during a raid on a large-scale prayer meeting at the Living Light Fellowship Church in Khopate village, Uran, which was attended by around 500 Christians. After videotaping around 30 minutes of the event, fifteen of the Hindu extremists seized the microphone from the Rev. Joseph and accused him of converting people to Christianity. They beat him and fellow pastor T. Shekkar, allegedly for over half an hour using chains, iron rods and sticks. The Rev. Joseph sustained a fracture in his right arm, a number of broken ribs and a bleeding head; Pastor T. Shekkar later required stitches to a head wound. They reportedly demanded to know the contacts of the pastors 'for conversion activities' and stole their mobile telephones. The attackers also threw stones at the assembled crowd and destroyed a number of Bibles.

Five of the pastors present were then forcibly taken to a nearby Hindu temple, the Shankar Mandir, where they were beating after refusing to worship a Hindu god.

An investigation was undertaken by police at the behest of Vijay Kamle, police commissioner of Navi Mumbai. Police made a number of arrests and but all were released on minor charges.

Chopada, Pune district, 22 May: Christian stoned by Hindu extremists

Members of the Indian Evangelical Team (IET) church in Chopada, Maharashtra were ordered to stop praying by a group of Hindu extremists. When they refused, one of the Christians was stoned. At a subsequent meeting of the local panchayat, the case was not heard but instead villagers were incited by the chair to physically assault any Christians they should find in the local villages.

The Christians subsequently faced a false criminal charge of desecrating a Hindu goddess.

Kasa, Thane district, 15 June: four tribal Christians assaulted by police

Four tribal Christians were verbally and physically abused by policemen at the Kasa police station when they arrived to follow up an FIR lodged on 8 June. The FIR had pertained to an assault by members of the local Tribal Welfare Committee on Christians Baburao Mahala, Anil Chaudhry and two others under the names of Sunil and his wife Kalpana. Police taunted the Christians before asking them to demonstrate how they prayed. When they knelt, they were kicked and their faith was mocked by the police. Subsequently, the four were charged for a breach of the peace.

Following a complaint by the All India Christian Council, a human rights organisation, a police enquiry into the case was ordered. One sub-inspector was removed from his job, as requested in the complaint, but no further action has yet been taken.

Manipur

Seikmaijing, 1 May: church buildings destroyed and Christians evicted

A church in Seikmaijing, Thoubal district, was burned down and further dismantled by Hindu villagers after the conversion to Christianity of a prominent village member. Some of the Christians in the village were also physically assaulted. Pastor Raghumani was subsequently forced to sign a resolution passed by the villagers demanding that he leave, and the Christians were given until 3 May to depart the village.

The incident followed the conversion of fortune-teller Memcha, which was greeted angrily by her husband Manglem and son Ibomcha. They had threatened to evict her unless she recanted her Christian faith, but she left the house and was baptised. Manglem threatened to kill Pastor Raghumani and his family for allegedly converting his wife to Christian faith. To force them out of the village, he and his son set the church on fire.

An FIR was registered at Kakching police station, but later withdrawn in order that a compromise could be found.

Punjab

Bathinda, 16 April: Easter Day church service attacked by Hindu extremists

A group of around five Hindu extremists bearing sticks, led by RSS member Sukhpal Singh, broke up an Easter Day event at the home of Kulwanth Singh of the House of Prayer, an independent Christian denomination, and warned the Christians against holding any further meetings. The attackers verbally abused those present, shouted anti-Christian slogans and vandalised some of the property. Reportedly, following this attack, Hindu extremists threatened other pastors around Bathinda to desist from Christian activities.

Kulwanth Singh attempted to register an FIR at the railway police station, but Station House Officer Gurjeet Singh refused to oblige. When they approached Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Birendra Kumar instead, he reprimanded the pastor for his Christian activities and told him that he required permission from the district magistrate in order to hold this event.

Local Christian leaders attempted to meet the SSP, but he refused to see them. On 4 May, after he was contacted by AICC leaders from Delhi, he recanted and extended permission for the Christians to hold services. Two Shiv Sena members and another man were arrested in connection with the raid, but released on the same day.

Pangila village, Kaputhala, 1 June: Pastor Harbans Lal beaten

Pastor Harbans Lal, leader of Happy Life Prosperity Church in Panglia village, was beaten unconscious by a mob of around 15-20 people. The alleged leader of the group, Tari, accused Lal of using evil spirits when he had prayed for his sister. Tari took Pastor Lal to his residence, where he was severely beaten and sustained serious head injuries.

Police were notified of the attack by Christian leaders, and undertook to resolve the situation.

Uttar Pradesh

Bareilly, 6 May: pastor threatened with death by local BJP leaders

A minor family dispute was capitalised upon by three BJP members who issued death threats to Assemblies of God pastor Mehboob Masih. The dispute over a drainage channel culminated in Ms Saroj Maurya accusing her six uncles and their pastor of attempts to forcibly convert her to Christianity. After her accusation was printed in the local newspaper, three local BJP leaders confronted Masih and threatened him with death if he should continue to hold prayer meetings. They also threatened to hold a Hindu worship ceremony in his house.

A senior policeman from the Fajeh Ganj police station reportedly visited the house of Masih and ordered him not to hold the prayer meeting scheduled for the following day. Masih submitted a complaint on 7 May, but police refused to give him a signed copy as required by law, and informed him that a case had been registered against him for attempted forcible conversion. A compromise has since been sought by the church, and the situation has been resolved.

Received from Dr. John Dayal catholicunion@gmail.com September 07, 2006

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