02/12/2007, 00.00
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Christian beaten for refusing to go back to Hinduism

The attack took place in the Indian state of Assam. A man who converted to Christianity after marrying a Christian Tribal woman was victimised by his own community for refusing to reconvert. For a local priest attacks like this are orchestrated by Hindu fundamentalists who claim that all Tribals must be Hindu.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) – Rahbindra Narzaree, a Christian convert, was beaten last week by his fellow Hindu villagers for refusing to “reconvert” to Hinduism. The attack occurred in Bashbari village, Kokrajhar district, in north-eastern Indian state of Assam. Mr Narzaree converted two years ago after marrying a Christian woman from the Bodo tribe.

Since Mr Narzaree converted his family has been ostracised by the local community. Under pressure from his fellow villagers he reconverted to Hinduism but later declared he remained a Christian.

At last Tuesday’s village council, the elders pressured him to return to Hinduism; however, when he refused, they denounced him.  Some of the villagers, armed with sticks, attacked the couple and broke down a portion of their humble mud house. Both husband and wife fled the village and sought taken refuge in the police sub-station.

Although the local law enforcement agency has not detained those responsible for the attack they did post a team of officers near the house of Mr Narzaree’s brother to prevent further violence.

“Again this is the work of fundamentalist groups,” said Fr Tom Mangattuthazhe, from the diocese of Diphu. “These groups claim that indigenous tribes in [India’s] North-East are all Hindus. But this is not true. Their aim is to set community against community on irrelevant issues so as to better control them.”

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