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10 Christian Families in Jharkhand Beaten, Forced to Leave Their Homes For Their Faith
Saturday, July 7, 2018, 16:47 (IST)
Ten Christian families were forced to abandon their homes in Jharkhand after they refused to renounce their faith in Jesus Christ.
International Christian Concern, a nonprofit persecution watchdog based in the U.S., reported that the 10 families are "living in fear" and have not returned home in the Pahli village of the Latehar district after they were severely beaten and driven out of the village for refusing local radicals' demands that they convert to Hinduism.
On June 5, the local authorities summoned a meeting with the Christian families and demanded them to recant their faith or leave the village.
"We are living in fear, away from our homes. It is almost a month since my house is locked by Hindu radicals and there is no attempt by the police or the government to resolve the issue," said 25-year-old Shyamlal Kujju, one of those forced to flee from Pahli village.
"Our lives are devastated as we hide ourselves from the Hindu radicals. We do not know how long this will continue," he added.
Despite reporting to the local police, there has been no arrest yet.
ICC expressed their concerns for the displaced families.
"We here at International Christian Concern are deeply concerned to see that 10 Christian families have been beaten and displaced for merely exercising their religious freedom rights," ICC Regional Manager William Stark said in a statement.
"Article 25 of India's constitution says that every individual has the right to freely profess, practice, and propagate the religion of his or her choice. This right has obviously been denied to these 10 Christian families in Pahli village," he added.
Attacks against Christians have increased in Jharkhand since last September, when the state criminalized religious conversion.
ICC called for a comprehensive action from local authorities to "correct this denial of rights."
"Without enforcement, India's religious freedom rights will remain only words on paper and attacks on Christians and other religious minorities will continue to rise in both number and severity," said Stark.
The plight of the 10 Christian families comes as India ranks as the 11th worst nation in the world for Christians to live, according to Open Doors USA's 2018 World Watch List.