Saturday, May 14, 2005

Eight Bible College Students Attacked In Kerela

By Vijayesh Lal
Eight students of Beerrsheba Bible College, run by the Indian Pentecostal Church of God at Maraman, Chettimukku, near Kozhencherry, were attacked and beaten up by a group of RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) workers on Thursday, the 12th May 2005.

The students were waiting on the roadside to attend a funeral when a mob of RSS workers riding on motor cycles descended on the spot and physically assaulted them. The local police confirmed that the assault came without any provocation from the Bible School Students, who were caught off guard.

The names of the injured students are R. Ravindran, Rajesh, Binu Babu, T.E. Varghese, Blessen Abraham, Geo Abraham, Vinod and B. Rony.

The police acted swiftly and took the injured students to the district hospital in Kozhencherry where all of them were given first aid.

Two students i.e. Binu Babu and Blessen had to be admitted in the hospital because of the wounds received. They were discharged yesterday. One student, Rajesh nearly escaped blindness; he had received a grievous wound just above his eye. T E Varghese who was attacked with a sharp instrument also received injuries and had to be in the hospital for some time.

According to eyewitnesses, the Bible School students had gone to attend a funeral service of a former Church member. The incident happened when the body of the deceased was being taken from his home to the cemetery.

Since the house where the students were visiting for condolences was away from the main road and there was no room left for them in the bus which was taking people to the cemetery, the students decided to walk to the main road and wait there for the bus to return and pick them up for the service.

Meanwhile two RSS workers on a motorcycle, came and surveyed the matter. They saw the students walking alone to the main road and decided to attack them, knowing they were Christians. It is noteworthy that the RSS was having its meeting, the same day in the nearby area of Kozhencherry.

The two RSS volunteers soon returned with around 15 people on motorcycles and some more on a jeep. The RSS volunteers on the jeep were armed with weapons. They started beating the students without any prior warnings and were shouting anti – Christian slogans. The attackers were all under 25 years and are allegedly led by one ‘Sunil alias Visham’. Visham in the local dialect means poison.

Soon the bus which was supposed to carry the students to the cemetery arrived and the students ran into the bus for protection and to escape the beating. The RSS volunteers followed them into the bus and kept hitting them. They left them only when other Christians and by standers started arriving on the scene.

The incident has instilled fear in the hearts of the Bible College students. There have been reports of more threatening against the Bible College. Last Saturday afternoon a group of RSS people gathered outside the college and shouted anti-Christian slogans and gave mass warnings to the students. Yesterday a day scholar named Sujit, was stopped and threatened by the RSS people.

Police protection has been provided for the Bible College and the Church. The Beersheba Bible College has been in existence for the last 12 years and currently has close to 40 students, while the Church has been ministering in the area for the last 22 years.

However, the response of the Bible School to this incident is very surprising for the people in the area. Pastor Shibu Nalweli, who is the principal of the College and the Pastor of the local Church, has said that the Bible College chooses to forgive the attackers and does not want to push charges against them. The police however have registered a case against the 15 RSS workers in connection with the incident.