Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Christian family attacked in Maharashtra

Christian family attacked and terrorized by Fundamentalists
Urgent Appeal to help.

November 5, 2005

Chikli, Distt. Dhulia, Tehsil Sakri, Maharashtra:

29th October 2005: Raman Kashinath Pawar and his wife Walibai Pawar had embraced Christianity out of their own initiative three months back. Their two sons Subhash Pawar and Sonya Pawar are also professing Christians although not baptized so far.

Raman and his wife were beaten up by fundamentalists in the village for changing their religion when they became Christians three months back. Since then they have been receiving threats on life continually from the fundamentalists allegedly belonging to the VHP and its affiliates who are quite actively involved in the village and the near by areas. It is to be noted that Raman and his family are tribals (scheduled tribe) belonging to the 'Bheeli' tribe.

Lately, on 24th October some goons who had been opposing Raman and his family for becoming Christians descended at their house in the evening and beat up Raman and his wife inside their house and left them injured. The mob accused Raman and his wife of indulging in witchcraft and black magic.

The Mobs further targeted Raman's two school-going sons Subash and Sonya Pawar. The sons who sometimes take time off from school to do labour work in order to add to the family income had gone to work in the field of one of their relatives (maternal uncle) near their own village on 26th October.

As they were returning home after a hard day's work, the fundamentalists, who had been hiding on the way to their village and waiting to pounce on them as soon as they went that way, suddenly attacked them and beat them up badly. They struck severe blows on them as a result of which the two brothers sustained some injuries. One of the brothers Subash was not in a very good condition and had been taken for medical treatment.

(Background information - Raman’s father Kashinath who was under the influence of alcohol, received injuries on his head as he collapsed and fell to the ground on losing consciousness so much so that he doesn't even remember the place where he had fallen down. This happened a few days before the two attacks took place on Raman and his family. However, people who are opposing Raman and his family are alleging that Kashinath was beaten up by Raman as well as by Raman's wife and sons while using it as an excuse to falsely accuse and trouble them.)

Ever since they became Christians, the family has been living under terror and has to sneak in and out of village quietly in order not to catch the eyes of those who have been opposing and accusing them.

The fundamentalists have incited the villagers against Raman and his family and have also lodged a false complaint against them at the Sankri police station in the area to the effect that the family is involved in witchcraft and other such acts and are having a bad influence on the society.

They have also complained that Raman and his family beat up Kashinath (Raman's father) while Raman and his family maintain that Kashinath had received injuries on his head after falling down due to the consumption of excessive alcohol (see background). According to Raman Pawar, his father Kashinath, who is angry at the change of Religion of his son and his family, is also conspiring against them along with those who have registered the complaint though Kashinath's name dosen’t appear among those who have registered the complaint.

Raman also alleged that those behind the attacks and those who have been opposing as well as threatening him and his family belong to the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and its affiliates. He also identified the attackers as:

Lal Singh Phul Singh Pawar
Pandit Daga Pawar
Sanjay Lal Singh Pawar
Kanhe Lal Singh Pawar
Daga Rai Singh Pawar

According to the family, Lal Singh Phul Singh Pawar is the one who is creating the most trouble. They have threatened Raman and his family that they would kill them like a goat and cut them to pieces if they did not leave their village.

When we tried to contact the T.I. Kohli, he wasn't available for any comments. However, another official on duty at the police station A.S.I. Patole informed us that all that he knew was that Raman had been asked to return to the police station on Monday the 31st October 2005.

Further Developments

Raman Pawar and his family have been to the police station time and again and were under the impression that the police have filed an FIR against the people who have troubled them on the 31st October 2005.

However when we spoke to the police on the 3rd November 2005 the TI, Mr. Kohli denied any knowledge of the incident and when he was able to recall it, he denied having any knowledge of an FIR filed.

Raman and his family have further been threatened by more fundamentalists on the 4th November 2005. The group that threatened the family this time was a new group, says Raman, and were allegedly sent by the VHP. They came to Raman's home at night and warned the family of dire consequences.

We request the Minority Commission to kindly look into the matter and to ensure that the freedom of conscience as enshrined in the constitution of India is upheld.

Respectfully Submitted by

Vijayesh Lal
Associate Coordinator
National Forum for Reconciliation, Religious Liberty and Social Justice