Church and Shops Burned in Anti-Christian Riot Following Claims of Forced Conversion in India

ICC Note:

A church and several Christian-owned shops were burned down in an anti-Christian riot in India’s Jammu and Kashmir state earlier this week. The violence was sparked after a Hindu family accused local Christians, including their daughter’s husband, of forcefully converting their daughter to Christianity. Accusations of forced conversions by Christians are common in India. Often, false accusations are used as cover for Hindu radicals to attack and harass Christian communities across India. Unfortunately, these false accusations are also used to justify the violence metered out against the accused Christians. 

01/20/2018 India (UCAN) – Hindus have burned down a church and shops belonging to Christians in India’s Jammu and Kashmir state after a Hindu family alleged that their daughter was killed by her husband after she had been forced to convert to Christianity.

The violence is unusual in the Muslim-dominated state, where Christians have not faced any hostility from Hindus.

Tension is high in the Rajouri district bordering Pakistan following the Jan. 16 incident, with police on alert to prevent further violence.

Police said a 25-year-old Hindu woman, Seema Devi, married a local Hindu man, Rinku Kumar, two years ago. The man took his wife to the northern Punjab state, where he was working in a private firm.

However, Devi died recently in Punjab and her body was taken by her husband to his home village in Kashmir for burial with Christian rituals.

Devi’s family objected and accused Kumar of murdering their daughter after she objected to being forced to convert to Christianity. They claimed that Kumar had converted to Christianity.

Devi was cremated by her family members with Hindu rituals.

It is the first incident of Hindu violence against Christians in the state, although there has been some tension after Muslims accused Christians of converting their people.

A police official said further deployment of forces is being made to prevent the situation from escalating.

Devi’s uncle Joginder Singh told that the family had no idea that her husband was a Christian.

“We came to know about it last month when she told us over the phone that her husband took her to Christmas prayers at a church in Punjab. He must have coerced her to convert to Christianity,” he said.

In the outbreak of violence following Devi’s death, about 12 people including some policemen were injured.

Father Saiju Chacko, spokesman for the Jammu-Srinagar Catholic Diocese, told that the church condemns the outbreak of violence and wants the culprits brought to book. He confirmed that a Pentecostal church had been attacked by arsonists.

He said the incident was caused by some “fringe elements who are active in that area and are allegedly spreading Christianity and are also engaged in activities that are detrimental to the social balance of the society.”

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