"Christians are seriously stressed and under pressure in Jharkhand. Accusations of conversion are used to put pressure on the fragile Dalit community,” said Sajan K George. “False conversion charges are often made to seize Dalits’ properties. Shankar Bhuiyan is being forced to disinherit his children.”
Mumbai (AsiaNews) – Right-wing extremists in a Jharkhand village have falsely accused an Evangelical Christian of forcibly converting to Christianity 23 people from disadvantaged castes.
“Police are investigating a case of conversion in Kulgada, a village in Latehar district (Jharkhand)," said Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC, speaking to AsiaNews. "They levied a false charge of forced conversion against independent pastor Arscel Tirkey.
Five people from this village, all from disadvantaged castes – Ranjit Bhuyan, Lallu Bhuiyan, Jogindra Bhuiyan, Rajendra Bhuiyan and Situ Bhuiyan – and their families have been accused of being forcibly converted to the Christian faith.
Shankar Bhuiyan accused Rev Arscel Tirkey of forcing his son Lalu Bhuiyan, daughter-in-law Anju Devi and two of their children to adopt Christianity.
Later, the fathers of two youths, Shankar Bhuiyan and Kariman Bhuiyan, filed a complaint against Arscel Tirkey at the Latihar Sadar police station for forcibly converting their sons to Christianity. In the statement, it is alleged that the accused visited their homes, and he is forcing three other families in the village to convert.
When the local village council (Panchayat) met on 5 July, the converts were told to recant their new faith, whilst the young man’s father was told to disinherit his son.
The new Christians have refused to convert, despite the social pressure and family ostracism. This led Hindutva extremists to brutally attack Christians; even their neighbours and villagers started insulting them. After being called in, police took everybody to the police station.
Under pressure from villagers and local extremists, Lalu Bhuiyan’s father, Shakar Bhuiyan, threatened to repudiate and disinherit his son, as well as evict him from the family home.
According to Sajan K George, "Christians are seriously stressed and under pressure in Jharkhand. Accusations of conversion are used to put pressure on the fragile Dalit community.
"In this case, those involved were Dalits,” George explained. “They are already crushed by an oppressive caste system, ruled over by the upper caste. False conversion charges are often made to seize Dalits’ properties. Shankar Bhuiyan is being forced to disinherit his children.”
In a similar case, "the murder of a tribal woman in Jharkhand for alleged 'witchcraft' is another way of terrorising Christians. Suman Munda, 25, was killed on 19 July in Redhadi, a remote rural village in Khunti district, local media reported.”
“Munda had converted to Christianity six years ago. Local Hindu extremists began harassing her when they learnt of her conversion and instigated her neighbours and villagers against her.”
“The GCIC strongly condemns the murder of Suman Munda, an innocent tribal Christian woman falsely accused of practising witchcraft,” the group’s president, Sajan K George, said.
“This pattern is being repeated in the tribal belt. Tribal people who freely embrace Jesus as Lord and Saviour previously practised traditional animistic religion. Now that they worship Christ.”
“Local right-wing extremist groups instigate tribal people against them with false propaganda; they sow hatred and division against the Christian faith and Christian converts."