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Widow Fights Fanatics To Give Convert Husband Christian Funeral

ICC Note: Hindu extremists refuse to let a widow bury her Christian husband in peace because he used to be a member of the highest Hindu caste.

5/5/08 JABALPUR, India (UCAN) — A Christian woman in a central Indian town says she had to fight “hard” against Hindu hard-liners so she could bury her husband according to the couple’s shared faith.

Benjlive Minj Balotya told UCA News at the end of April that “some people played dirty politics” with her husband’s body.

The husband, Praveen Balotya, died of tuberculosis at around 2.30 a.m. on April 18 in a private hospital in Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh state, 815 kilometers south of New Delhi. He was born a Brahmin, a member of the Hindu priestly caste to which his family belongs, but became a Christian in 2006, two years after he married Benjlive. They have a 2-year-old daughter.

Soon after Praveen died, Benjlive recounted, activists of Dharam Sena (religion army) tried to take the body by force, saying he was a Hindu and should be cremated according to Hindu rites.

When she objected, the members of the Hindu militant group threatened “to set our house on fire,” Benjlive said. Still, she refused to give in to their pressure, and they accused her Evangelical Lutheran Church of converting Praveen.

The woman, who works with a federal government establishment in the town, informed the police, whose “timely intervention” helped her. Finally, she was able to bury her husband on April 18 in the evening. Having to defend a husband’s body is “the worst thing” to have to happen to a woman, she said.

She and her mother Erine Minj say Christians have become easy targets for attack by Hindu fanatics since a pro-Hindu party came to power in the state in December 2003. Lack of unity among Christian denominations in the state helps the fanatics carry out their activities, Benjlive added. The state has only about 170,000 Christians amid a population of 60 million, 91 percent of whom are Hindus… [Go To Full Story – ID IC04929.1496]