Violence Against Dalit Christians Kills Two In Indian State

Monday, August 20, 2007

By BosNewsLife News Center with reporting from India

NEW DELHI, INDIA (BosNewsLife) -- Tensions remained high Sunday, August 19, in India's southern state of Tamil Nadu after a reported crackdown by militants on Dalit Christians in which a pastors' brother and a local official were killed.

The president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), Sajan George, told BosNewsLife his advocacy group has urged India's National Human Righs Commission to intervene after learning that the brother of Pastor Pastor Paul Chinnaswamy, a Dalit residing in Hosur District, was killed.

"On July 29, two men on a scooter drove up to the house of Chinnaswamy’s elder brother Amos", who had recently become a Christian, George said. The attack in Channagiripalli village apparently came shortly after Amos protested against violence and threats against his brother, the pastor.

"They pulled down a small hut put up in front of the house, and assaulted Amos with a stout log on his head and back. When he fell down, they crushed his head with a couple of large boulders, and threatened his shocked wife and mother-in-law that they would be killed too if they did not also throw stones at the body," George added.


The women allegedly complied, shouting in grief and fear. Several days later, on August 3, a local Communist Party leader supporting the pastor, identified only as Mr. Dhanaraj, was found murdered in his banana farm in Thalli in the same district, George said.

The official had reportedly been involved in pressuring police to release Pastor Chinnaswamy and his son. The murders added to pressure on Pastor Chinnaswamy and his family, who already suffered several attacks this year GCIC investigators said.

In one of the latest incidents last month, on July 14, the pastors' house in the Kelamangalam area, in which his son Luka Perumal lived, was reportedly demolished. His son, also a preacher, was injured while trying to save materials such as sheets "even as the demolition was going on," George claimed.

Two days later, July 16, Luka was threatened at midnight by unknown men in a mini van at a main street, Indian Christians said. Following the threats his father, Pastor Chinnaswamy, was summoned to the regional police station where he was allegedly ushered into a room July 18, “to wait” only to found that it was locked up.


He was released two days later, but his son was picked up July 20, and held till August 3, apparently because of the family's Christian activities, the GCIC said. The attacks have underscored concerns about pressure on Dalits, seen at the 'lowest caste' in India's ancient system of Hinduism.

Although it was not immediately clear who was behind the recent violence, several Hindu groups have condemned the spread of Christianity among Dalits, one of India's most impoverished groups where the country's economic progress has not yet materialized.

Pastor Chinnawamy has reportedly said that gangs have been involved in "killing and terrorizing" the area for the past three years. “In Uddinipally, there have been 13 murders in three years," he said in a statement released by the GCIC.


George said he had appealed to the NHRC to "take immediate steps to initiate an enquiry into the targeting of Pastor Paul Chinnaswamy and his family for the only reason that they are Christian believers."

In a letter to the NHRC obtained by BosNewsLife he said that the group should also look into "the violation of their human rights with total impunity and the brutal killing of the elder brother for no other reason except because he spoke up in support of his brother."

George said it is "alarming that far from dealing with the lawlessness in the region, police is busy incarcerating peaceful preachers, while letting dangerous criminals roam around unhindered. We appeal for immediate action in this regard." Indian officials were not immediately available for comment.

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