India: Christians Victimized in Punjab assembly elections while a Pastor Beaten in Rajasthan
13 Mar 2007
New Delhi, March 12, 2007. Three pastors have been arrested and charged with attempts on the lives of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) activists in Bathinda, Punjab.
They were sentenced by a district magistrate to 24 days police custody under section 307 of Indian Penal Code. Sources told the All India Christian Council the allegations are false and the facts contradict reports by local media which carried fabrications from VHP and Bajrang Dal activists. Another pastor was beaten in Rajasthan and police refused to take his complaint.
Fifteen women were having prayer in Pastor Amit Sidhu's home in Bathinda, Punjab on March 10, 2007, when a group of VHP and Bajrang Dal leaders came and asked them to stop. The matter was brought to the attention of other local Christians and there was a clash between them and VHP and Bajrang Dal activists.
One source told the All India Christian Council that a VHP activist was severely injured and later Pastor Kulwan Raj, Chootta Singh and Harfool Singh were booked with an attempt on the lives of VHP activists.
On the following day, Vijay Bhardwaj, the general secretary of the VHP, and Sumit Kumar, co-coordinator of the Bajrang Dal, led a group 50 Hindutva activists and attempted to attack the occupants of Pastor Amit Sidhu's house. Police forces had to disperse the crowd with lathi charges and it has been reported that some of them suffered injuries.
Gurjit Romana, Station House Officer of city police station, who protected the Christians from VHP and Bajrang Dal attack has been suspended.
The three accused pastors were produced before magistrate today and they have been put in police custody for 24 days.
"Christians were targeted because they exercised their rights of franchise, and the VHP and Bajrang Dal activists were angry that Christians voted against their political alliances," one victimized Christian said.
Christian women have given a complaint to local police against VHP and Bajrang Dal leaders for abusing them.
This incident took place less then a month after Akali Dal and its BJP alliance won the state Assembly election. The Christian community of the state live in fear of religious fanatics` attack might occured as it happens in BJP and its allience Government rule states.
Another Pastor Brutally Beaten in Rajasthan
In another incident, Pastor Reginald Howell of Good Shepherd Community Churches was brutally beaten by a fanatic group in Hanumangarh, Rajasthan, on March 7, 2007. Pastor Howell went there to pray for sick people along with other Christians. He was beaten with an iron rod and suffered severe injuries on his back.
He told the All India Christian Council that police refused to take his complaint against the culprits and forced him to leave the place. He sought medial attention as he was bleeding and doctors refused to give him First Aid in fear of attack from religious fanatics. He hired a taxi and managed to reach his hometown in Punjab.
The All India Christian Council (www.aiccindia.org), birthed in 1998, exists to protect and serve the Christian community, minorities, and the oppressed castes. The aicc is a coalition of thousands of Indian denominations, organizations, and lay leaders.