Christian family expelled from home for refusing to recant their faith

Published 05 December 2019  |  
Reuters/Adnan Abidi
A man climbs down after partially chipping out the cross from the entrance of his house, after taking part in a religion conversion ceremony from Christianity to Hinduism, at Hasayan town in Uttar Pradesh August 29, 2014.

Christian family thrown out of their home for refusing to bow down to the tribal deities in Chhattisgarh on November 4.

Sodi Joga, his wife and 5-year-old daughter from the Kalgundapara area of Gadiras village were demanded to partake in the cleansing ritual, a puja, which would cleanse them of Christianity and restore them to their previous faith.

When the family refused to recant their faith, the villagers threw out the belongings, animals and chickens they owned. Joga did not know where to go as it was his relatives and kinsmen who were threatening to kill him and his family.

For two weeks, the family took shelter at a church building in a nearby village. Dudhi Bandi, an elder of New Bethesda Yishu Krist Ministries in Sukma District, advised the family to flee once they sense any danger.

"I pray for the Lord's protection over them," Bandi told Morning Star News. "Usually in such cases, the village council would let Naxals [Maoist militants] take over, and they won't hesitate to take lives. We had already counseled them and made them aware about these dangers."

On November 7, Bandi accompanied the family to Gadiras police station to file a petition. According to the petition, Joga and his family had faced harassment for the past three months. "They would quarrel with us over trivial issues and link it with our Christian faith," Joga stated in the complaint. "We had been quiet and never said a word."

The police officer refused to file an FIR, and said he needs time to investigate the issue and did not issue a receipt for the petition.

Aware that the family approached the police, the village president called Bandi. "He told me that we should not have gone to the police station when it is an internal matter of the village," Bandi told Morning Star News. "I said, 'Alright, sir,' and asked for forgiveness for not approaching him at first. He went on to clarify that only he vests the rights to solve the issues in the village, and that we cannot go to the police."

In Chhattisgarh, Adivasi Christians (indigenous tribes) suffer the anger of their kinsmen. According to ADF-India attorney Son Singh Jhaali, "It is intriguing that the village council and its president, who enjoy supremacy in the village administration matters, decide the family matters also. Even police accept their judgement as final and refuse to file cases against anybody in the family who puts an Adivasi to suffering because of their faith in Christ."

According to local sources, the village council can go to any extent to wipe out Christianity from the village and exert pressure on Christians to partake in a cleansing ritual. "When Christians decline to join the rituals, as the next extreme step, Naxals [Maoist militants] are informed about the growing Christian faith, and Christians are handed over to them to be killed," the sources said.

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