06/06/2006, 00.00
INDIA
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Women raped in Madhya Pradesh for converting to Christianity

Indira Iyengar, a member of the Madhya Pradesh State Minority Commission, explains that the May 28 attack was the act by Hindu fanatics who wanted to punish Tribals from Nadia village, guilty in their eyes of leaving Hinduism for Christianity.

Bhopal (AsiaNews/ICNS) – Women from the village of Nadia "were raped as punishment for changing religion and converting to Christianity". The authorities, "whether civil, police or the courts failed to listen to the women and give them justice," said Indira Iyengar, a member of the Madhya Pradesh State Minority Commission.

In an interview she said that the "horrendous crime perpetrated against Christians in Nadia" started last May 28, around 10 pm, when a group of Hindu nationalist fanatics attacked five Christians—two women and three men—and held them for a whole day. The two women were raped and the three men suffered serious gunshot wounds.

The women, Baishi Pokharia and Rekha Gyarsiya, were able to identify their aggressors, Lulla, Nandla, Kalu, Rewal Singh and Sakaram, all of whom, like their victims, are from the same village.

Next morning local leaders from India's largest party, the Bharatiya Janata Party or BJP, a party that espouses a Hindu nationalist-fundamentalist ideology, reported alleged "mass conversions to Christianity" to the local police due to Christian missionaries coming from neighbouring Maharashtra state.

Even though no clergyman was named in the report, in the charges filed they claimed as proof of their allegations the names of the five who had been attacked the previous day. When the latter eventually made it to the Bhagwanpura police station to press charges against their aggressors they were arrested by Inspector Thakur.

"All this happened because they converted from Hinduism to Christianity," said Ms Iyengar. "The attack should be punished because, in addition to the violence it entailed, it destroys a fundamental human right. But no one wants to listen to us".

"We want Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister to know what is going on here. We want this inequality to end. We want to live in safety," she said.

"We got justice no where," lamented the five victims, who are from a local tribal community. For her part, one of the two women said that the "police told us that our charges were false. They refused to listen. Now, we have no where to go".

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