Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Compass Direct: India

"Policeman tells victims seeking justice, 'Ask Jesus to call me on my mobile phone.'

July 6 (Compass Direct) - When four tribal Christians in Toranpada village, Maharashtra state, asked for help following an attack by Hindu extremists last month, police responded by taunting and kicking the victims, then filing charges against them.

Members of the local Tribal Welfare Committee had beaten Baburao Mahala, 32, Anil Chaudhry, 23, and a couple identified only as 20-year-old Kalpana and her husband Sunil, 24, on June 8 for converting to Christianity.

The four converts filed a complaint at the local police station immediately after the attack. When they returned on June 15 to ask what action had been taken, one police officer told them, 'Ask Jesus to call me on my mobile phone.'

Three police officers then asked for a demonstration of prayer. When the four Christians knelt down, the officers kicked them and taunted them. The officers then filed charges against them for breaching the peace.

Abraham Mathai, a member of the Maharashtra State Minorities Commission and leader of the All India Christian Council, accompanied the four to the office of the director general of police on June 20 to protest against the officers' behavior.

'They harassed the Christians instead of giving them assurance that the perpetrators would be brought to book,' Mathai said.
The director general of police ordered an inquiry, but police at the station have denied any wrongdoing.

Elsewhere in Maharashtra state, a government school in Sagar village, Nashik district has denied admission to children from Christian families, according to Mathai.

'The state government says that primary education is free for all, but how can the children of Christians benefit from this scheme if they are denied admission?'

The government in Maharashtra is ruled by a coalition of the Nationalist Congress Party and the Congress Party. Of over 96.8 million people in the state, a little more than 1 million are Christian. "

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