India State Christians Fear More Attacks, As Violence Kills 13

Monday, June 12, 2006

By BosNewsLife News Center

NEW DELHI, INDIA (BosNewsLife) -- Christians in India’s volatile state of Andhra Pradesh were anticipating more attacks against them Sunday, June 11, amid reports of sectarian violence in which at least 13 people died, a police raid and threats in a village where women were allegedly raped for refusing to abandon their faith in Christ.

The Press Trust of India (PTI) said thirteen people died last week when their house was allegedly set ablaze at Polkampalli in the Mahabubnagar district of Andhra Pradesh, following a dispute over land.

Four women and an equal number of children were among those killed, PTI quoted police as saying.

The incident underscored concern among Christians over a climate of violence in this troubled state in South India where Hindu militants have been attacking and raping Christians in recent weeks, several sources said.


The headman of 12 villages in Madhya Pradesh state, including Nadia village where two Christian women were raped on May 28, has reportedly asked Christians to renounce their faith or leave the village.

The headman, identified as Pandya Patel, sent two representatives to Nadia village Tuesday June 6 to ask the Christians to give up their faith or leave immediately – without any of their belongings a Christian source was quoted as saying by Christian news agency Compass Direct.

"Patel also warned other villagers that if anyone spoke to the police about himself or about the rapists, they would be expelled from the village – regardless of their religious background," the source, who requested anonymity, reportedly said.


Elsewhere in Andhra Pradesh, up to 25 police officers raided a home in Jabalpur city arresting Christians after officers and Hindu extremists allegedly forced a neighbor to file a charge of "forced conversions" against the believers.

Homeowner Meera Bai, 52, told reporters that the June 6 raid came just hours after her 19-year-old neighbor, identified as Sukhdev, filed a complaint with police earlier that day claiming that Bai had pressured him to become a Christian.

Sukhdev later visited Bai at her home to tell her that members of the "Hindu extremist" group Dharma Sena and police forced him to file the complaint against her, Compass Direct reported.


"He said he was eating a meal when some Dharma Sena people, along with policemen, came to his house, took him away forcibly and made him give a statement against me," she was quoted as saying.

In the “coerced complaint,” Sukhdev apparently told police that Bai had taken him to a Christian healing meeting held regularly at Jabalpur in order to heal a stomach ailment. He further alleged that Bai had offered to pay him 2,000 Indian rupees (US$44) every month if he became a Christian, Compass Direct said.

During the raid, police reportedly confiscated Bibles and pictures of Jesus Christ from Bai’s house and took Bai, along with her son and dinner guests Satish and Leela Bai, to the police station for questioning.


Meera Bai was charged under the state’s controversial anti-conversion law, the Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act of 1968, and reportedly released on a bail bond of 5,000 Indian rupees (US$108). The others were apparently also released without charges.

Rights watchers have linked the recent incidents to fears among Hindu militants about the spread of Christianity in the state and other areas of India, a predominantly Hindu nation.

Foreign missionaries and local church leaders have also been singled out for attacks, Christians say.

Local police officials have reportedly admitted there was little evidence pursue a criminal case against the Christians, but Christian believers have suggested they remain concerned over the future. (With BosNewsLife Research and reports from India).

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