Photo: A typical village in Maharashtra state (World Housing Encyclopedia photo)
MUMBAI, India (Morning Star News) – After Hindu nationalists in Maharashtra state attacked Christians two weeks ago because they refused to honor a tribal deity – violence that led many to flee their homes – the extremists yesterday assaulted remaining Christians as they met for worship, sources said.
As police stood by watching, about 100 club-bearing Hindu extremists disrupted worship at the house of Ravindra Shankar Ander in Tamsai village, Thane District, and kicked, slapped and beat those present with their fists, Sainath Amboraote told Morning Star News by phone. The extremists did not use their wooden clubs as they did in the attack two weeks ago.
“Around 20 police were mute spectators to the attack, and a woman, Lata Raote, was slapped repeatedly by women extremists,” Amboraote said.
More than 100 Christians from the area are afraid to return to their homes after Hindu extremists on Dec. 30 beat worshippers with wooden clubs for refusing to contribute to the festival for the tribal deity, police and church members said. Men and women said to belong to Hindu nationalist groups in Tamsai village and neighboring hamlets in Thane District stormed the worship service of the Yehovah Prathana Group Tamsai congregation in Tamsai.
Cursing in rage, they kicked, punched and struck the tribal Christians with clubs, damaged a harmonium and tore Bibles, the 20-year-old Amboraote said. The extremists nearly choked Raju Wadali to death, and they beat his wife, Chanda Raju Wadali, and sister on the face, chest and back, Amboraote said. Repeated blows left the legs of Raju Bhoir swollen; Bharat Patil was beaten on his face, chest and back; and Shankar Ander – whose home was attacked yesterday – was kicked and slapped, the Christian said by telephone, adding that the extremists are planning further attacks.
Police Inspector Vijay Powar of Manor police station said the hard-line Hindus attacked because the Christians refused to pay their contribution for the festival of the tribal village deity. Claiming that the villagers did not object to Christianity itself, he said they became angry as they perceived that the Christians were renouncing their “tribal identity.”
Powar added that both the Christian groups and the Hindu extremists came to the station to complain after the Dec. 30 attack, but that neither party registered a formal complaint.
Threatening area residents for converting to Christianity and thus turning from the tribal deity, area Hindus have denied them access to water, firewood and their monthly supply of grains at the ration shop, according to the Times of India.
The 100 tribal converts to Christianity who have fled, including women and children, have taken shelter in relatives’ houses in distant localities, fearing attacks on their homes, the newspaper reported.
Abraham Mathai, former vice chairman of State Minorities Commission, Mathai told Morning Star News that tribal Christians in the area have been denied basic services and have suffered a spate of attacks because of police bias against them.
In a prior press statement on Friday (Jan. 11), Mathai said that if police continue looking the other way when hard-line Hindus launch such attacks, the area will see violence of the magnitude of anti-Christian assaults in Kandhamal District, Orissa state in August and September 2008. Those attacks, which killed more than 127 people and destroyed 4,640 homes and 252 church buildings, could have easily been prevented had law enforcement agencies taken prompt action, he said.
In a meeting with state Home Minister Raosaheb Ramrao Patil, Mathai warned that if police fail to provide security to tribal Christians, “another Kandhamal would take place in the future.”
Police are succumbing to communal “mobocracy” and trampling fundamental human rights, Mathai said, cautioning that tribal Christians run the risk “extinction” because of police negligence.
c. 2013 Morning Star News. Used with permission.
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Publication date: January 14, 2013