Christian Teenager Jailed on Groundless Rape Charge in Chhattisgarh

Published 05 October 2018  |  
(Representational Image)

A 16-year-old Christian and three others in Chhattisgarh have been in jail for more than a month on a baseless rape charge.

In August, Hindu radicals of Tarai Beda village in Kondagaon District had seen Piso Ram with a 16-year-old girl going to his house. The radical group pressured police to file the charges against Piso, one relative of the boy told Morning Star News.

Tula Ram, 22, cousin and adoptive brother of Piso since Ram's parents adopted Piso after his parents died eight years ago, told that police still call him regularly threatening to arrest more Christians.

"The station-in-charge calls me every next day to warn about the threats from the village council leaders," said Ram.

"They want to publicly humiliate and expel us from the village," he added.

Marriage talks were happening between Piso and Ram's parents, said Ram, adding that Piso agreed with him when he told the boy he was too young to be thinking about marriage.

"Months passed by, but through some relatives in the village, he found out that the girl had developed affection for him," said Ram.

"The very next day, [girl's name withheld] came with Piso to my house. We are a family of nine and follow Christianity, but she and her parents worship the tribal and Hindu gods. I asked her, 'Why did you come here? Do your parents know that you are here?' She said, 'I came to live here with Piso,'" he added.

However, the girl's sister, who knew about her interest in Piso, brought her parents and took the girl away, said Ram's wife, Subri Ram.

"She had sent him a message that she loves him and wants to stay with him and came home [with him]," she said.

On Aug. 11, the girl's father and four other tribal men attacked Ram's cousin, identified only as Parsu, he said.

"He was brutally attacked by her father," said Ram.

"He accused Parsu of lifting his daughter from his house to convert her and marry her in Christian faith, in extremely abusive language," he added.

On Aug. 12, the girl's parents filed a complaint against seven male members of the village church, alleging that their daughter was gang raped, the pastor of the church told MSN.

"Police arrested seven male members, including Piso, 16, and Baadhu, 18. The arrests were made solely based on the oral statement given by [the girl] and her parents" said the pastor.

Piso is in the juvenile ward of the Jagdalpur central jail.

Besides Piso, Christians identified only as Lakshman, 30, Parsu, 25, and Baadhu, were charged with kidnapping and rape.

"The girl gave the statement that she was locked in a room with four men and that they tried to take advantage of her, and her father was repeating the same," said Police Sub-Inspector Pitambar Khattar of Makdi Block police station.

"But as per medical reports and doctor's statement, we see the possibility of intercourse, and it could have been a forced intercourse, but not gang rape. We suspect Piso must have forced her," Khattar.

The ADF-India attorney based in Chhattisgarh told MSN that there was no possibility of intercourse between the two teenagers.

"The police were under the village council's pressure to frame Christians under section 376 [gang rape]," the attorney said.

"When the girl came to Piso's house, his brothers and their wives and his adoptive father and mother also were present. She was there with Piso's family for not more than five minutes, according to eyewitnesses, and her parents took her away immediately," the attorney added.

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