Thursday, June 22, 2006

In Thane, Christian tribals victimised

Had filed case about assault by Hindus, say police turned on them instead.

Express News Service

Mumbai, June 20: "ASK Jesus to call me on my mobile phone," was the answer 20-year-old Kalpana Chaudhry allegedly got from a policeman when she and three other tribal Christians asked about progress on a complaint they had filed.

"Just because we had dared to approach the police after an attack on us by Hindu men," she says.

Along with her husband Sunil (24), Baburao Mahala (32) and Anil Chaudhry (23), Kalpana met Director General of Police Dr P S Pasricha on Tuesday.

"We were asked to demonstrate how we pray," said Sunil. "When we knelt down, policemen at the Kasa police station abused us, kicked us and mocked our faith."

Kasa, about 200 km north of Mumbai, near Dahanu, is a largely tribal pocket in Thane district.

Mostly tillers, about 45 Christian families of Toranpada village are in constant fear of being evicted from their homes, they said. "We are constantly abused by the Hindus," added Mahala.

Following an attack on June 8, they registered a police complaint. It was on June 15, when they returned to the police station to check on its progress, that the policemen turned on them instead, they allege.

"The police have, instead of assuring justice, booked the victims for so-called breach of peace and initiated Chapter proceedings against them under Sections 107 and 110 of the Criminal Procedure Code," said All India Christian Council General Secretary Dr Abraham Mathai, who accompanied the tribals to Mantralaya on Tuesday.

"This only intimidates the poor tribals, who will fear to report future attacks."

Superintendent of Police (Thane Rural) Archana Tyagi said she knew of the case. "I have already deputed an officer to conduct an inquiry," she added.

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