06/12/2012, 00.00
INDIA

Assam: tribal Christians beaten and forced to convert to Hinduism

by Nirmala Carvalho
Two men and a woman from the Rabha tribe are seriously wounded. Some 40 Hindu nationalists carried out the attack. The Global Council of Indian Christians slams the systematic attacks. Two Christian families flee for fear of violence.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - Some 40 Hindu radicals attacked some Tribal Christian Rabha in the village of Deuphani (Assam). After showering them with insults, death threats and beatings, they forced the victims to abjure their Christian faith.

"Such systematic attacks are no longer tolerable," said Sajan George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC). "Christians from the Rabha tribe live in a climate of terror," he told AsiaNews. "I call on the authorities to protect your fellow citizens," he said.

Three Christians, including a woman, suffered serious injuries because of the attack and had to be hospitalised.

The incident began last Friday, when some Hindus met Bhageswar Rabha, a Christian who had fled Deuphani, and forced him to reconvert to Hinduism.

A few hours later, around midnight, a group of 40 of them burst into the home of Manesor Rabha, a Pentecostal, and dragged him away, his wife Mala, as well as two other co-religionists, Michael Rabha (pictured) and Prashanto Rabha.

Once outside, the attackers began insulting and proffering threats against their victims, trying to convince them to abjure their Christian faith and sign blank papers.

Faced with the victims' silence, the attackers beat them before taking them back to Manesor's house where they left them with a warning that they would suffer "terrible consequences" if they ever filed a complaint with the police.

On Sunday morning, Mala, Michael and Prashanto were taken to the Satribari Christian Hospital.

Following the attack, two other families (seven people in all) fled the village.

"The district administration should ensure the safety of these tribal Christians," Sajan George said. "Religious freedom is guaranteed under Article 25 of the Indian constitution, which says that everyone has 'the right freely to profess, practise and propagate religion.'"

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