Monday, September 18, 2006

Pastors attacked and falsely accused in Jhabua, Madhya Pradesh

Reported by Vijayesh Lal

16th September 2006:

Violence against Christians is registering an upsurge again in Madhya Pradesh. While the incidents of violence and false cases against Christian pastors in Balaghat and Seoni shook the state on the 10th September 2006, Christians were again attacked on the 15th September 2006, this time in the Jhabua region which is already infamous for attacks against the minority.

Around 12:00 in the afternoon, while around 20 Christians were having a quite prayer gathering at the house of Pastor Kapsingh in Machlia village, Jhabua District, they were attacked by around 40 people who alleged that Pastors Kapsingh and Ray Singh were converting people in these meetings.

Both Pastors were physically assaulted being badly beaten by wooden sticks and sustained some grievous injuries. The attackers also attacked the congregation as a result of which the congregation was dispersed and had to flee. They also ransacked Pastor Kap Singh’s house.

Some of the congregation members went to the near by Kali Devi police station where the police refused to file an F.I.R. against the attackers. The police waited for the attackers to bring both the Pastors to the police station for more than an hour. The attackers on the other hand brought both the Pastors to the Police station beating them all the way and the police stood by as a silent witness.

The Pastors were accused and charged under the sections 295 A, 294, 506 of the Indian Penal Code and under the sections 3 and 4 of the Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act. This was a classic case of the victims being framed again. They were later on granted bail the same day.

When we spoke to the Superintendent of the Police at Jhabua, Mr. Joga, he informed us that both Pastors have been creating trouble since they claim that Jesus Christ can heal people of the rapidly spreading disease known as Chicken Gunia in the tribal belt and have been distributing coconut oil guised as healing oil.

He also informed us that the Pastors were encouraging people to read the Bible to solve all their problems and that it amounts to an inducement to convert. When pointed out by us that it can be simple religious preaching that every citizen of India has a right to, he had no answer.

This is not the first time that Ray Singh or Kap Singh have been attacked or accused by the fundamentalists in the area. Early in March this year Kap Singh was beaten up by fundamentalists for the crime of praying for a sick girl on her father's invitation. The mob had also beaten up the father of the girl for this,

Situation in Jhabua has been worsened by the creation of a front called the Bhagat Samaj. Essentially it is the Bajrang Dal in disguise. The Bhagat Samaj strives to make the area Christian free. It is backed up and supported by RSS and BJP cadres and is headed by a man called Khum Singh Maharaj who had told a secular probe panel investigating charges of conversion in Jhabua that, "the seventy thousand members of my samaj would beat the hell out of the missionaries and chase them out of this district". He had supported the BJP in the last elections.