Court Hears Plea on Police Torture of Christians
November 6 (Compass Direct News) The high court of the western state of Gujarat today heard a counter complaint from eight Christians accused of forced conversion and attempted murder. The counter complaint charges that Hindu extremists attacked them and police tortured them.
The eight Christians, all workers of the Indian Missionary Society (IMS), had filed a petition on September 28 against nine Hindu extremists for attacking them in Vankadi village in Dahod districts Limkheda Taluka on September 20.
The honorable court accepted the Christians petition seeking inclusion of more sections of the Indian Penal Code in their counter complaint, and filing of a fresh complaint against a policeman for subjecting them to mental and physical torture, Samson Christian, joint secretary of the All India Christian Council (AICC), told Compass.
The Gujarat High Court was conducting the first hearing of a special criminal application, with the next hearing scheduled for November 16. The Christians asked the court to add to their complaint the charges of using deadly weapons, criminal intimidation, wrongful confinement and extortion.
Tomorrow, the victims will file another petition seeking quashing of the false complaint against them, Christian added.
The eight were arrested on charges of forced conversion, attempt to murder and carrying fire arms on September 24. Kanji Budha Nayak, the complainant and one of the attackers, had charged that when he resisted efforts of IMS workers to forcibly convert him, one of them opened fire at him. (See Compass Direct News, Christians Attacked, Charged with Attempted Murder, September 29.)
On October 15, after the intervention of the high court, police filed a counter complaint against nine Hindu extremists, including Nayak, for the attack and against Police Sub-Inspector (PSI) R.S. Sharma of the Devgarhbaria police station for torturing the Christians.
Christian said Sharma beat Madhu Jagan Baria, one of the eight Christians, about 10 days ago for refusing to give a false statement saying he was not tortured by him earlier. At press time Baria was recovering in a hospital in Ahmedabad for a broken leg.
Even since the Christians were released on bail on September 29, PSI Sharma has been torturing them physically and mentally, Christian said.
The Christians charge that the September 20 attack took place when Pastor A. Arul Daniel and his family, along with other workers of IMS, were returning from Divya village, where they had attended a house warming ceremony of a widow identified only as Gujiben.
On the way, according to their complaint, they found the road blocked with branches of trees and stones. As they slowed down their motorcycles, around 10 people carrying sticks and lethal weapons attacked them.
They put a sharp knife on Pastor Daniels neck and threatened to kill him if he resisted, Christian said. They took away his mobile [phone] and some cash, besides snatching his wifes gold chain.
The attackers took away other mobile phones and personal belongings. Then they led them to the main road, abusing and manhandling them all the way, Christian said. By the time the IMS workers reached Vankadi village, it was very late in the night and therefore they decided to go to the police station the following morning.
Before the Christians could go to the police station, however, a policeman came early in the morning and took all of them to the Devgarhbaria police station, where PSI Sharma told them that a complaint had been lodged against them, Christian said. Sharma also allegedly refused to file a counter complaint against the attackers.
When they insisted on registering the complaint, police reportedly threatened them.
AICC leaders also contacted the police, urging them to register the complaint, but they refused to do so, Christian said. They also did not allow them to have medical treatment. They were detained in the police station till late in the evening on September 21.
He added that if the state government tries to justify passage of an anti-conversion amendment bill, the so-called Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Bill 2006, by registering false cases against members of the Christian minority community, we will organize mass agitations at the national level to draw the attention of the federal government and the global community.