India: Hindu Extremists Assault Christian Family

Friday, March 28, 2008

Group threatening to kill believers in Madhya Pradesh demands to abuse 15-year-old girl.  

REWA, India (Compass Direct News) -- Hindu extremists in a village in Madhya Pradesh who have harassed and threatened local Christians beat the grandparents and aunt of a 15-year-old girl last weekend when the Christian family refused to allow the group to rape her.

Shouting anti-Christian slogans and curses and drunk from a Hindu festival, nine members of the Hindu extremist Bajrang Dal on Saturday (March 22) arrived at the home of Brij Gopal Saket in Bahera village, Rewa district, and demanded that he turn over his daughter Urmila so they could abuse her.

“I pleaded and reminded them that we are brothers from the same village and community,” Saket told Compass. “They deterred not, and told me that by becoming a Christian I am no more of their community.”

Saket managed to lock himself, his wife and his daughter inside their home, but the intolerant Hindus – who have threatened to kill other members of the community unless they stop worshipping Christ – got hold of his parents and sister while they were still outside. They relentlessly beat Saket’s mother Hirawa Saket, father Sant Lal Saket, and sister Michwa.

“They hit them with rods, sticks and stones,” eyewitness Ram Mani told Compass. “Villagers gathered together to stop this brutal carnage.”

These villagers took the injured to Nai Garhi Primary Health Center, about 15 kilometers (nine miles) away. There doctors found that one of the stones had smashed the bone in the bridge of the nose of Saket’s mother. More than 60 years old, she suffered other head and body injuries.

Saket’s sister also suffered severe head injury. His father, who had been seriously ill the past four months, sustained injuries on his left hand, including a possible fracture of the middle finger.

Villagers recruited and trained by local Hindu extremist leaders Shrikant Tomar and Subhash Gupta (both belonging to high castes), have threatened to kill area Christians unless they too join the Bajrang Dal, youth wing of the extremist Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council). Area members of the Bajrang Dal have continually harassed Christian women and denied Christians access to water from a government-installed hand-pump, said local Christians.

Since becoming a Christian two years ago, Saket said he has been attacked twice before, last January 17 as well as on July 1, 2007.

“The previous attacks were not targeted at my family,” Saket said.

A case has been registered against the assailants at the Nai Garhi police station, but no arrests have been made so far. The names of those recorded in the complaint are Bhagwandeen, Jagdish, Kanhai, Somnath, Ramesh, Suresh, Shivpal, Mohan Lal and Gopilal.

Police are awaiting a final medical report.

March 22 marked the celebration of the Hindu festival of Holi in India, characterized by people putting colors on each other, but also used as an excuse for drinking binges.

There are about 40 Christians in the village who are poor, landless subsistence laborers with no political or social influence.

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