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By ICC's India Correspondent
International Christian Concern
Christian villagers in India's Chhattisgarh state have reportedly been brutally assaulted by Hindu radicals following the passing of a resolution in the village banning all non-Hindu religious activities. As a result of the attack, two Christian women were seriously injured and rushed to a hospital for treatment. This comes as the most recent incident of persecution in India's troubled Chhattisgarh state where over 50 villages have passed similar resolutions effectively making Christianity illegal.
The incident took place in Karmeri village, approximately 12 miles away from Chhattisgarh's Baster District's headquarter, Jagdalpur, on Tuesday, September 8. According to local sources, a mob of over 50 Hindu radical gathered and surrounded a church premises around 4 pm. Before any of the Christians could ask what was happening, the radicals attacked, assaulting Christians with wooden clubs and sticks.
When some women confronted the radicals, they were brutally beaten with wooden clubs and fists. Two Christian women, Pulo Bhai, age 40, and Ludri, age 35, were seriously injured in the assault and collapsed unconscious.
Pastor John Massiah, a local pastor and one of the victims of the assault, told International Christian Concern (ICC), "We are terrified and devastated. The Christians in the village are in deep trouble as they are [already] not allowed to buy groceries from the shops in the village. It's almost two days since the incident took place [and] no one has come [to] our rescue; neither police nor any political leader."
Tension between Karmeri's Christian and Hindu communities mounted when Christians began to build a church in the village. When news of the church construction spread, Suresh Yadav, the district president of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), convened a 'Grama Sabha' (village meeting) with Karmeri's village leaders on June 25. As a result of that meeting, a resolution was passed under Section 129 (G) of the Chhattisgarh Panchayat Raj Act banning all non-Hindu religious propaganda, prayers and speeches in the village. A resolution similar to ones passed in 50 other villages in Chhattisgarh intended to effectively make Christianity illegal.
Following the passing of this resolution, life for Christians in Karmeri became very difficult as they were the subjects of a social boycott. "We, Christians, were not allowed take the cattle out for grazing, our rations were cut off, and we were barred from buying things at the local grocery shop," a Christian woman from Karmeri told ICC. "The attackers are roaming free, even after the attack on the Christians. They are demanding us to leave the foreign religion and come back to the Hindu religion."
A formal complaint was lodged by Christians in the Baster police station, but the Christians are unsure if the First Information Report (FIR) was formally filed by the police as the police refused to give them a copy of the filed FIR. According to local sources, the assailants continue to roam free in Karmeri and continue to threaten and mistreat the local Christians.
This incident is, unfortunately, just another typical incident of Christian persecution in India's Chhatisgarh state. India's constitution guarantees religious freedom for all of its citizens, yet, as can be seen in this most recent incident, Hindu radicals and biased local authorities often deny India's Christian citizens this fundamental right. Without government enforcement at both the national and local level, India's constitutional guarantee of religious freedom is just words on paper. India's government must step up and enforce the rights of all of its citizen, especially its minority citizens, if it is to remain the world's largest democracy.
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