16th January 2008:
The Orissa violence against Christians is hardly erased from our memory and yet again the Hindutva brigade is doing what it does best: targeting minority communities in different parts of the country.
Bothali Village, Chhattisgarh
The latest incident comes from Chhattisgarh, where in Bothali village in Dhamtari district about 100 Hindutva activists from Dharma sena (Religious army) attacked a Christian meeting causing huge damage to property and people.
A three day prayer meeting was going on at Bothali village and after the meeting was closed and people were having tea and snacks suddenly 3 trucks carrying about 100 Dharma Sena activists descended on the venue and started vandalizing. They dragged the Pastor Mohan C Thomas, from Sector 10, Bhilai, and started beating him. He received grave injuries.
The attackers proceeded to burn the shamiyana, pandal and other things. They also burned a fiat car and a Honda motorcycle during this time. Reports say that about 70,000 Rupees in cash was kept in the car which got burnt along with it.
It was not that police protection was not asked for by the Christians. They had applied to the local police station to give them protection during the prayer meetings but in vain.
Meanwhile, in Kondagaon, also in Chhattisgarh, the police arrested 7 Christians on false complaints from Dharma Sena activists alleging that a girl died after local Christians had prayed for her. Some of the names of the people arrested are Laxman Patel, Shyamlal Patel, Ramlal Patel, Charan Patel and Malik Patel.
The trouble started on the 9th January 2008, but reconciliation was reached on the 12th January 2008 due to the intervention of the local police. Soon after that, according to reports, pressure came from the capital for the police to take action against Christians in the area. So the Christians were called one by one on the pretext of questioning and arrested.
They were charged under sections 295(a) of the IPC and under section 3 and 4 of the freedom of religion bill and put under arrest. Last heard their bail application was rejected by the lower court and they were preparing to file a bail application in the session’s court.
14th January 2008:
RSS activists kidnapped Mr. Raju Soni, a Christian, from his home at about 8:00 pm. They had been keeping tabs on him for some time and on the pretext of speaking to him, they led him away from his home.
When till about 11:30 pm he did not return, his wife, also a Christian, got suspicious and went to the local police station to lodge a complaint. She found her husband over there, sitting amidst local policemen and small time RSS politicians, being pressured to give statements against local Pastors.
She was not allowed to speak to him or to meet him, but was treated rudely and turned away from the police station and asked to come again in the morning. But Raju Soni was detained in the police station for the night.
Sources confirm that Raju Soni was forced to give a statement against Christian leaders in the area that night, which the RSS activists plan to use against pastors in the area. Some pastors have even gone in hiding for the fear of being dragged into false cases.
Raju Soni was detained in the police station till afternoon the other day and was released only when he and his wife consented to the pressure put on them by RSS activists and local police to change his religion to Hinduism.
He was then taken to a temple nearby and forcibly made a Hindu. His forehead was smeared by Tilak and he was made to recite Hindu prayers. The couple now full of fear is not willing to speak to anyone.
What is surprising in this incident is the involvement of the local police. In BJP ruled states, it seems all is possible.
Barwani, Madhya Pradesh
11th January 2008
A minor dispute between brothers turned communal when one brother was incited by the RSS activists to file a case not only against his brother who was a Christian but also against his pastor and other members of the Philadelphia Church.
9 people were arrested under Sections 151, 294, 323 and 506 of IPC and Section 3 of the Dharma Swatantrata Adhiniyam and were kept under custody for 5 days. It was only after 6 days that they were able to finally get a bail.