01/12/2007, 00.00
INDIA
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Young Christian convert thrown off a train dies

by Nirmala Carvalho
For police it is a case of suicide but for others it is a another example of religious persecution. The 18-year-old succumbs to his injuries after three days of intense pain. Bajrang Dal extremists are suspected.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) – A Hindu convert to Christianity died this afternoon after three days of intense pain following an incident in which he was thrown off a train last Tuesday under still unclear circumstances. The incident occurred in Devas district, in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, but for police it was a simple case of suicide.

Too many factors lead however to believe that his death was but the latest example of religious persecution by Hindu extremists.

Bansi Lal, just 18, was on his way back from a meeting of the Pentecostal community, when unidentified persons threw him off the train.

Rushed to a hospital the medical staff tried everything to save him, but his injuries were too severe—stones were even embedded in his skull.

Bansi Lal did not make it and died without being able to give his version of the events. And so police closed the book and concluded that it was a case of “suicide”.

Madhya Pradesh has seen many other incidents of persecution against Christians, said Indira Iyengar, chairwoman of the Madhya Pradesh-Chattisgarh Christian Forum.

Suspicions point in the direction of activists from the Bajrang Dal, an organisation that is quite active in the area.

The Bajrang Dal (Bajrang Brigade) is the youth wing of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), which gravitate around the Sangh Parivar, a family of organisations inspired by Hindutva, or Hindu nationalism. Their fight is, among other things, for the preservation of India’s Hindu identity.

“After a lull, Bajrang Dal activists have increased their attacks against Christians in the state, especially at Christmas time,” Indira Iyengar said.

The young man who was killed had converted to Christianity two and half years ago and had been threatened ever since. Even his family did not approve of his decision.

Given the current climate in the country, Christian leaders have preferred to take a low profile and said nothing about the incident concerned that whatever they say might lead to further violence and retaliation against local Christians.

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