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India: Hindu Villagers Beat, Expel Christian Families

Thursday, November 30, 2006 | Tag Cloud

(Compass Direct News) -- Police in the eastern state of Jharkhand have turned a blind eye to the plight of two Christian families who were severely beaten and expelled from their village for refusing to give up their faith.

Hindu residents of Dublia village in Kanke Block, Ranchi district, drove out the families of Raju Toppo and Santosh Karmali in June after repeatedly assaulting them, according to a spokesman from the All India Christian Council (AICC).

In May, Hindu villagers had accused Toppo of forcibly converting Karmali – his childhood friend – and Karmali’s family.

On May 21, several members of the Hindu extremist group Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) called Toppo and Karmali to a meeting point in the village and beat them.

Later that day, the whole village hurled stones at Toppo’s house, where Christians from nearby villages had gathered for their regular Sunday worship service. Many shouted threats, demanding that the Christians leave the village.

“When Toppo’s wife heard the noise, she came out and the crowd dragged her out into the open and beat her up,” the AICC said in a press statement. “When Toppo and their niece, Sunila, came out to rescue her, the villagers beat them too.”

House Barricaded

On May 24, the villagers built a fence around Toppo’s house and warned him not to step outside it.

When relatives heard about this, they came to help Toppo. Once they entered the house, however, villagers prevented them from leaving. A few hours later, policemen from nearby Pithoria police station arrived and threatened Toppo and his family.

Later that evening, some pastors from nearby villages came to offer their support, and the villagers prevented them from leaving the property. The villagers also tried to damage the pastors’ vehicles, accusing them of trying to destroy the village through conversion.

Finally the villagers went home, after demanding that Toppo’s family stop holding worship services in the house, and that they and Karmali’s family return to their “original” faith.

The villagers also demanded that there be no interaction between the two families, “otherwise they would leave the village with broken bones,” the AICC reported.

A few days later, Karmali’s 3-year-old son went to Toppo’s house to play. Karmali’s wife immediately went to the house to bring him back. Thinking their threats were being ignored, the village heads got together and decided to expel both families from the village.

Police were informed but failed to take any preventative action.

Pressured to Renounce Faith

The villagers then dragged Karmali and his wife out of their house and demanded that they forsake Christianity. When they refused, the mob beat the couple severely, pulling out their hair and forcing them to sign a paper renouncing all rights to their property.

The mob then dragged Toppo and his family out of their home. They cut off the couple’s hair, tore the children’s clothes, applied limestone to their bodies and faces and drove them out of the village.

Christian friends in neighboring villages immediately went to the Pithoria police station on behalf of the families, but police refused to file their complaint.

Toppo then approached the district senior superintendent of police, but he was told to go back to Pithoria police station.

Both the Karmali and Toppo families took temporary shelter with friends in neighboring villages. On June 17, Toppo approached the police and asked for help to go home and retrieve his possessions. When he arrived at Dublia village, however, he found the house almost empty – most of his possessions had been stolen.

When the villagers saw him, they once again asked Toppo to “reconvert” and tried to attack him.

Intimidated and rejected by former friends and neighbors, Toppo and Karmali, along with their families, moved to rented homes in the suburbs of Ranchi city.

A Plea For Justice

The families have suffered almost continual opposition from local RSS member Sandeep Oraon and his friends since they accepted Christ eight years ago.

“I was deeply moved when Toppo’s 8-year-old son told me that, during lunch hours, his government school would give a meal to everyone else but him,” an AICC spokesman told Compass. “They would ask him to go to the missionaries to get his lunch.”

Although the victims filed a police complaint against Oraon and his associates, police have taken no action against them.

According to police, the accused have gone into hiding – though local people say Oraon and his friends are still living in Dublia village.

When Compass spoke to Deputy Commissioner of Police N.P. Singh, he claimed he had sent officials to the village to work towards reconciliation.

The AICC has urged the National Human Rights Commission and the National Commission for Minorities to investigate the “serious human rights violations” committed against the Christians of Dublia village.

Of almost 27 million people in the state, little more than 1 million are Christian.

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