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For Immediate Release

After Launching Axe Attack, Villagers in India Ostracize New Christians

You are free to disseminate the following news. We request that you reference ICC (International Christian Concern) and include our web address Contact Jeff King President, 301-989-1708, [email protected]

(November 20, 2006) – The Washington-DC based human rights group, International Christian Concern (ICC) has just learned that villagers in Madhya Pradesh state’s Anuppur district are ostracizing four members of a poor family, who were earlier attacked with axes for not moving out of the village after their conversion to Christ.

Pooran Lal, his wife and their two sons are the only Christians in Miriya village, situated in Pushparajgarh Block of the north-eastern district of Anuppur (formerly known as Shahdol).

A pastor (name withheld) from a nearby village told ICC that although there is a government hand-pump (to draw water from the ground) and a well hardly a few stones throw away from their house, the ostracized Christians have to fetch water from the Narmada River, about two kilometers away.

Lal, a farmer, had earlier been asked by the villagers to leave Christianity or the village. The villagers had also warned him that he would be poisoned if he did not move out of the village.

When the Christian family refused to leave, the opposition turned violent. On June 9, eight villagers came armed with axes and attacked them. They hit all the four members on their heads causing deep wounds.

Some villagers promptly took them to a hospital, where they received stitches.

The victims also went to the Amarkantak police station and lodged their complaint. But till today, the attackers roam scot-free and continue to threaten them and pressure them to withdraw the complaint, said the pastor.

“The police do not investigate and ask for bribe, which the poor family cannot pay. But the attackers are wealthy and powerful who can grease the hands of the policemen,” he said.

On the contrary, he added, the attackers lodged a counter-complaint against the victims alleging they beat them up. The police acted on their complaint and the case is being heard by a court.

“The family has to attend the hearing in the court twice a month for which they have to walk quite a distance. And each time they go for the hearing, they are stopped on the way and threatened,” he said.

Although there is no violence any longer, there is a deep sense of insecurity among the family members, who await justice and continue to believe in Christ despite severe opposition, he added.

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