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Hindu militants forcibly prevent alleged “mixed marriage”

ICC Note:
Hindu extremists, armed with swords, tridents, and sticks, break into marriage ceremony to prevent the union of a Christian man and a woman they claim is Hindu even though her family says she is not.

AsiaNews/Agencies (1/10/07) – A group of nationalist militants broke into a Marriage Registrar’s office in Jabalpur in the central state of Madhya Pradesh to prevent the union between a woman – who they claimed was a Hindu – and a Christian. After disrupting the ceremony, they declared that anti-Hindu activities will no longer be tolerated on Indian soil.

Armed with swords, tridents and sticks, the group last week blocked the marriage of Meena Gond and Peter Abraham because it was “part of a larger Christian plot to convert Hindus.” Sudhir Agrawal, leader of the nationalist movement Dharam Sena, said: “For more than a century we did not raise any voice against Christian conversions in India. But now we are organised. We will not tolerate any more.” About the specific case, he said: “The man lured Meena by offering her money and promising her a better life. This is simply a marriage of conversion to increase the members of their community by stealing them from Hinduism,” he said.

But the family of Meena Gond say she is not a Hindu. Her brother, Radhe Gond, said: “We have no connection with Hinduism, we have never worshipped any Hindu gods in our house.” Patras Gond, a tribal elder in the area who knows the family, backed this claim: “Most of us have always been animist and many still are. Missionaries converted some of us to Christianity and others adopted Hinduism, but not them.”

The activists insist the family are Hindu, but just do not know it. Dilip Singh Ju Deo, leader of the nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that rules the state, said: “The origin of Hinduism is deeply rooted in what the Gonds call ancestral animism. For ordinary tribal people, it is impossible to understand the vastness of Hinduism. Missionaries have taken advantage of their ignorance, simplicity and poverty, and converted them to Christianity. This marriage is just the latest example.”

Christian leaders of the state have described what happened as “outrageous”, saying it shows how “government and para-government agencies do not want to defend the Christian minority that lives here.”

Meena’s family hopes to save the union. The future bride herself, who is disabled, said on television: “Peter was the first man who ever loved me and wanted to take care of me. But the Hindu men have shattered my dreams. They have threatened to kill him if we marry in secret. Suicide is the only way left for me.”