Tearing of woman’s clothes in one case, accusation of child molestation in another.
By Our New Delhi Correspondent

Hindu extremists in India this month sought to shame and malign Christians, as four women were publicly beaten in one village and a teacher was falsely accused of child molestation in another, sources said.

In India’s eastern state of Jharkhand, 11 assailants dragged four Christian women from their prayer meeting on Feb. 8 in Navardi, Chatra, to a public meeting site, where they beat them and partially stripped one, sources said. The women had just finished their meeting at a home when the Hindu extremists charged in, reviled them for praying to Christ and dragged them out to the road, said area church leader Rampath Nayak.

As the husbands of the four women worked in the fields, the extremists took Shanti, Samudri, Sonamati and Yasoda (surnames withheld for security reasons) to a public meeting place, placed them on a platform and started beating them with their hands and shoes, he said.

Later, saying Yasoda was the leader and responsible for more people joining the prayer meeting, the Hindu extremists stripped off her sari as they mocked and hurled obscenities at her and tore her blouse, the traumatized woman told Morning Star News.

“I asked them what crime did I do for them to do this to me and asked them to stop, but they would not stop and said that I should stop following Christ and stop praying to Jesus, and that then all this will cease,” the sobbing Christian said.

As they continued cursing at and slapping the women, the assailants tried to force them to sign a paper stating that they would be charged a fine of 50,000 rupees (US$800) if they continued to pray to Jesus. The extremists also said that they would falsely charge them with stealing and put them behind bars if they did not worship Hindu deities.

The women returned home with swollen faces, bruises and abrasions; their families took them to a local hospital later that evening.

“They are all recovering, except that Yasoda is still complaining of pain in the left part of her chest,” said Pastor Nayak.

Yasoda said she is refusing to show her face in public because of shame she feels over the mistreatment.

Area police Station House Officer Ajay Kumar Gupta told Morning Star News that officers have registered a First Information Report (FIR) against the attackers, and that further protection will be given to the Christians.

The four women and their families put their faith in Christ in 2010.

“We will give our lives for Christ, we are not frightened, we will only worship Christ,” one of them said.

Teacher Accused
Also in Jharkhand, Hindu extremists on Feb. 2 helped the mother of a student at a Christian school to accuse a teacher of molesting her daughter.

Shouting anti-Christian chants at Holy Family School in Barhawa, Sahibang, a large crowd of Hindu extremists damaged school and church properties as the mother of a fifth-grade girl, Keona Mondol, filed a complaint that teacher Bhim Kujur had molested her. The mother complained to the school principal and then went to the classroom and slapped Kujur as an angry crowd shouted “Jai Shri Ram [Hail Lord Ram].”

The throng of hundreds hurled stones and bricks at the school and at a nearby church building, calling the Christians “beef-eaters” and telling them to go back to their places of origin, according to the Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI). They also threatened to break Christian statues.

“The accusation against Bhim Kujur was totally false,” said a representative of the Holy Family School, P.S. Chacko, according to EFI. “Most students, including Keona Mondol, gave Christmas cards to Kujur, and he happily accepted them.”

When school authorities interrogated all fifth-grade students, they said they saw no sign of their teacher misbehaving with the girl, he said.

“The town people are wondering if the sudden unprovoked attempt was staged to malign the Holy Family School and the Christian religion,” the school representative said.

Photo: Map of Jharkhand state, India. (CC by sa PlaneMad Wikimedia httpcommons.wikimedia.orgwikiFileIndia_Jharkhand_locator_map.svg)

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