India: Christian villagers beaten over refusal to convert to Hinduism

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A group of about 16 Christian villagers were beaten by their neighbors for allegedly refusing to convert to Hinduism. These 16 Christians have reportedly fled from the village after being beaten. This incident is second of its kind reported from the Palamu District in Indian State Jharkhand, in just 14 days.

Hindu extremists in India

Naresh Bhuiya, one of those Christians who were beaten says that they had converted to Christianity from the Dalit caste; which is the lowest and most oppressed cast in Hindu system. He said that they have been Christians since the past nine years.

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While narrating the incident, Naresh said on May 8, the poor Christians of the village landed in trouble when they were called in front of a gathering an official meeting to explain why they were not able to carry out Hinduism. “They wanted us to shout to hail the Hindu god,” Bhuiya said. “When we refused, they tied our legs and hands and beat us mercilessly,” he explained.

In this regard, D.K. Singh a police officer who is in-charge of Ramgarh police station, under which jurisdiction the village falls maintained that the dispute was based upon some donations. He said that Police managed to settle the dispute by means of mutual dialogue and there is no police compliant of this incident.

He said, the villagers are usually poor not in a position to “fight legal cases therefore, whenever any complaint comes we usually settle it out through dialogue and we have done the same in this case too.” He said that he is not aware of any incident of Christians fleeing from their village but said that he will carrying out investigations.

Nonetheless, as reported by local Christian sources that the 16 Christians fled to Pentecostal Pastor Vijay Das in Daltonganj, the district headquarters, which is some 40 kilometers away from the village. “They reached my place in a very pitiable condition on Monday,” Pastor Vijay Das said adding that they had to walk several kilometers through the forest starved of proper food and water. “We are taking care of their basic needs but still they are under the trauma of the violence unleashed on them,” he said.

Thomson Thomas, the national coordinator of the Persecution Relief, a charity organization says, “We have witnessed three attacks against Christians including murder of a priest in this month alone in Jharkhand.” He further told that the Christian missionaries are striving to minimize the poverty of the Dalit and tribal people in the villages of the country. In the face of this, the Hindu fanatics are terming these charitable works as “faade for conversion. This approach will not help anyone other than pushing the poor further backward,” he said.

Previously, on April 29, another incident took place in another Indian State Chhattisgarh state, where six Christian families from the tribal group Gond, had to flee their village followed by threats from their neighbors to either convert to Hinduism, or else they will be killed.