RAIPUR: The recent attack on the tribal Christians by a mob of locals left many injured in the Sukma district of south Chhattisgarh. Following this, the cops registered a law and order case. The activists, however, termed the incident as a “serious situation involving freedom of religion”.
This is the second such incident against tribal Christians in two months.
After an attack on tribal Christians at Kondagaon (north Bastar) a couple of months ago, a joint statement was issued by members of the fact-finding team comprising of Medha Patkar, Amitabh Mishra, Vimal Bhai, Akhil Choudhary, and Vikram Singhal said the FIR with proper sections have to be registered in all such cases of violence within 24 hours of the incident. They then requested CM Bhupesh Baghel to come up with a firm stand against such incidents in tribal regions.
In the latest incident, tribal Christians came under attack while they were holding a function during the night hours in Chingavaram village. A mob of locals had brutally thrashed them leaving many including women and children injured.
“After the intimidating confrontation, some tribal Christians managed to escape to a nearby CRPF camp but the security personnel there refused to help.
"Such brutality was not spontaneous as the group that carried out the attack were armed with iron rods and other traditional weapons. At least 20 sustained injuries, four of them serious”, said an activist and human rights lawyer Bela Bhatia. She was accompanied by renowned economist Jean Dreze on their fact-finding trip to Sukma.
As many as 16 persons were arrested by Sukma Police following the incident and let off a day after on personal surety of Rs 30,000. The police lodged criminal cases against them under various IPC Sections.
“Both the parties involved in the conflict admitted that their fight was over religious conversion. So, how come no charges were framed by the police for promoting enmity between different groups on religious grounds? The Chhattisgarh government shouldn’t brush such violence under the carpet as it also relates to the freedom of people regarding their belief or religion”, said Bela Bhatia.
Congress rejects the contention that its government downplayed attacks on Christians. “It might happen under the BJP’s rule but never during the Congress regime. Our government is sensitive to the issues related to minorities”, said Shailesh Nitin Trivedi, chairman, Congress media cell.
Chhattisgarh Christian Forum demanded the Sukma collector and SP register criminal cases under relevant sections of communal provision and not downplay the incident by calling it merely a law and order issue.
“We are also moving the high court against such incidents. Owing to the Centre’s arm-twisting of the Bhupesh Baghel government, our community fails to get prompt justice in Chhattisgarh”, said Arun Pannalal. president of the Forum.
Despite repeated attempts, the Sukma SP KL Dhruv was not available for his comments.
In October this year, social activist Medha Patkar who visited Bastar villages where tribal Christians were attacked and their properties ransacked called for swift action by the state government to restore peace and harmony.