NEW DELHI (Morning Star News) – Ten Christians in India’s Chhattisgarh state whose faith cost them their food rations were hospitalized last week after a Hindu extremist mob attacked them for objecting to the discrimination, sources said.
One of the Christians fell unconscious and two women were among those hospitalized in the attack on about 100 Christians on June 16 in Sirisguda, Bastar town, Jagdalpur, according to the Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI).
“I received a hard blow on my head, and thereafter a couple of extremists started to jump on me, beating me up with sticks, punching and kicking me all over my body and my head and telling me I deserve to die because I am a Christian,” Aitu Mandavi, who fell unconscious and remained in a coma for two days, told Morning Star News.
Christians from 52 families from the Brethren, Bastar and Bethsheba churches at about 1 p.m. approached the food inspector in Jagdalpur, about 40 kilometers (24 miles) far from their village, to inquire about the denial of two months of food rations. Two government officials went to the village to appease local leaders. Hindu extremists chased the two officials from the village, however, and later filed a false complaint at Badanji police station against Christians for attacking Hindus, Christian leaders said.
“The manhandling of the government representatives by the villagers is evidence of the level of impunity that the perpetrators enjoy,” attorney Tehmina Arora of Alliance Defending Freedom-India told Morning Star News. “The intentional victimization of the 52 families using the public distribution system on account of their faith is inhumane.”
Instigated by the Hindu extremists, at about 3 p.m. a large mob brandishing sticks and stones attacked Christians gathered at the office of the food inspector, sources said.
“The extremists shouting Hindu slogans suddenly rushed in and started beating the Christians with sticks and stones, punching and kicking whomever they could catch,” the Rev. Bhupendra Khora told Morning Star News.
The attacked Christians, including women and children, started to run in different directions to avoid the attack, but the Hindus struck them while spewing verbal abuse, victims said.
Besides his head injuries, Mandavi’s left hand was broken, his right elbow was fractured, his sternum was severely injured, and he sustained abrasions on his legs and bruising all over his body. The other nine Christians sustained injuries to their heads, hands and legs, as well as abrasions.
The extremists dragged two women, identified only as Aiti, 40, and Kari, 45, to the ground and stood on them as they hit their genitals.
“ADF-India denounces these actions that affect the civil liberties of the religious minorities in the country,” Tehmina said.
The unconscious Mandavi was initially denied treatment, but after police intervention he was admitted to the district hospital, and the other nine injured Christians were admitted to the local hospital.
The village head had denied the food rations to the 52 low-income Christians families, sources said.
“The local Christians have been discriminated based on their faith for the past several months,” pastor Khora said. “It has been very difficult for them to live without the rations being allowed to be distributed to them.”
Attorney Songsingh Jhali said the village head continued to bully area Christians after the attack.
“The next day after the incident, the village head called a public meeting where it was sternly resolved that no entry should be given to an outsiders in the village – and that everyone in the village should embrace Hinduism or their lands would be seized,” Jhali said.
The Christians, however, refused to be bullied into renouncing their faith.
“They may kill us, but we are not going to leave Jesus who loves us,” one Christian told Morning Star News.
Police have filed a First Information Report against the assailants, but at press time no arrest had been made.