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Posts tagged ‘Chhattisgarh’

Government Officials Watch as Angry Mob Destroys Indian Church.

Divya Jyoti Church
Members of Divya Jyoti Church were too late to stop a mob from knocking down their building. (World Watch Monitor)

On March 12 in a southeast India village, the local newspaper published allegations that Divya Jyoti Church had been built on government land.

The next day, a crowd equipped with a backhoe demolished the small church building, encountering no resistance from the leaders of Guriya Village, in Chhattisgarh state.

Divya Jyoti Pastor Budhram Baghel said the church building had stood on land belonging to him.

“A temporary shed had been constructed in 2006 on this land after permission from the authorities and the same was later replaced by a permanent building,” said Rev. Rakesh Dass, a friend of Bahel’s.

Three residents of Gadia village, Yogeshwar Kashyap and two people identified as Lakhmuram and Shyamlal, filed a complaint that the building encroached on government land. Their allegations were published in the local newspaper, Dass said.

The crowd arrived the next day, led by Kailash Rathi and Yogendra Kaushik, officers of the local Visva Hindu Parishad, or VHP, a Hindu nationalist organization.

Budhram tried to summon help, but it did not arrive quickly enough to prevent the demolition. Those who protested were assaulted by members of the crowd, Christian witnesses said. They said several local officials, including the revenue officer, land officer, village head, police chief and a group of police officers, watched the demolition without objection.

“They didn’t even measure the land,” Dass said.

The church filed a complaint at the Lohandiguda Police Station on March 13 and held a silent protest rally on March 16. A memorandum regarding the demolition also has been submitted to the Collector & District Magistrate of Jagdalpur, a nearby major city.



Trafficked maids to order: The darker side of richer India.


NEW DELHI, Dec 4 (TrustLaw) – Inside the crumbling housing estates of Shivaji Enclave, amid the boys playing cricket and housewives chatting from their balconies, winding staircases lead to places where lies a darker side to India‘s economic boom.

Three months ago, police rescued Theresa Kerketa from one of these tiny two-roomed flats. For four years, she was kept here by a placement agency for domestic maids, in between stints as a virtual slave to Delhi‘s middle-class homes.

“They sent me many places – I don’t even know the names of the areas,” said Kerketa, 45, from a village in Chhattisgarh state in central India. “Fifteen days here, one month there. The placement agent kept making excuses and kept me working. She took all my salary.”

Often beaten and locked in the homes she was sent to, Kerketa was forced to work long hours and denied contact with her family. She was not informed when her father and husband died. The police eventually found her when a concerned relative went to a local charity, which traced the agency and rescued her together with the police.

Abuse of migrant maids from Africa and Asia in the Middle East and parts of Southeast Asia is commonly reported.

But the story of Kerketa is the story of many maids and nannies in India, where a surging demand for domestic help is fuelling a business that, in large part, thrives on human trafficking by unregulated placement agencies.

As long as there are no laws to regulate the placement agencies or even define the rights of India’s unofficially estimated 90 million domestic workers, both traffickers and employers may act with impunity, say child and women’s rights activists and government officials.

Activists say the offences are on the rise and link it directly to the country’s economic boom over the last two decades.

“Demand for maids is increasing because of the rising incomes of families who now have money to pay for people to cook, clean and look after their children,” says Bhuwan Ribhu from Bachpan Bachao Andolan (Save the Childhood Movement), the charity that helped rescue Kerketa.

Economic reforms that began in the early 1990s have transformed the lifestyles of many Indian families. Now almost 30 percent of India’s 1.2 billion people are middle class and this is expected to surge to 45 percent by 2020.

Yet as people get wealthier, more women go out to work and more and more families live on their own without relatives to help them, the voracious demand for maids has outstripped supply.


There are no reliable figures for how many people are trafficked for domestic servitude. The Indian government says 126,321 trafficked children were rescued from domestic work in 2011/12, a rise of almost 27 percent from the previous year. Activists say if you include women over 18 years, the figure could run into the hundreds of thousands.

The abuse is difficult to detect as it is hidden within average houses and apartments, and under-reported, because victims are often too fearful to go to the police. There were 3,517 incidents relating to human trafficking in India in 2011, says the National Crime Records Bureau, compared to 3,422 the previous year.

Conviction rates for typical offences related to trafficking – bonded labor, sexual exploitation, child labor and illegal confinement – are also low at around 20 percent. Cases can take up to two years to come to trial, by which time victims have returned home and cannot afford to return to come to court. Police investigations can be shoddy due to a lack of training and awareness about the seriousness of the crime.

Under pressure from civil society groups as well as media reports of cases of women and children trafficked not just to be maids, but also for prostitution and industrial labor, authorities have paid more attention in recent years.

In 2011, the government began setting up specialized anti-human trafficking units in police stations throughout the country.

There are now 225 units and another 110 due next year whose job it is to collect intelligence, maintain a database of offenders, investigate reports of missing persons and partner with charities in raids to rescue victims.

Parveen Kumari, director in charge of anti-trafficking at the ministry of home affairs, says so far, around 1,500 victims have been rescued from brick kilns, carpet weaving and embroidery factories, brothels, placement agencies and houses.

“We realize trafficking is a bigger issue now with greater demand for labor in the cities and these teams will help,” said Kumari. “The placement agencies are certainly under the radar.”


The media is full of reports of minors and women lured from their villages by promises of a good life as maids in the cities. They are often sent by agencies to work in homes in Delhi, and its satellite towns such as Noida and Gurgaon, where they face a myriad of abuses.

In April, a 13-year-old maid heard crying for help from the balcony of a second floor flat in a residential complex in Delhi’s Dwarka area became a national cause célèbre.

The girl, from Jharkhand state, had been locked in for six days while her employers went holidaying in Thailand. She was starving and had bruises all over her body.

The child, who had been sold by a placement agency, is now in a government boarding school as her parents are too poor to look after her. The employers deny maltreatment, and the case is under investigation, said Shakti Vahini, the Delhi-based child rights charity which helped rescue her.

In October, the media reported the plight of a 16-year-old girl from Assam, who was also rescued by police and Shakti Vahini from a house in Delhi’s affluent Punjabi Bagh area. She had been kept inside the home for four years by her employer, a doctor. She said he would rape her and then give her emergency contraceptive pills. The doctor has disappeared.


Groups like Save the Children and ActionAid estimate there are 2,300 placement agencies in Delhi alone, and less than one-sixth are legitimate.

“There are so many agencies and we hear so many stories, but we are not like that. We don’t keep the maids’ salaries and all are over 18,” said Purno Chander Das, owner of Das Nurse Bureau, which provides nurses and maids in Delhi’s Tughlakabad village.

The Das Nurse Bureau is registered with authorities – unlike many agencies operating from rented rooms or flats in slums or poorer neighbourhoods like Shivaji Enclave in west Delhi. It is often to these places that maids are brought until a job is found.

There are no signboards, but neighbors point out the apartments that house the agencies and talk of the comings and goings of girls who stay for one or two days before being taken away.

“There is at least one agency in every block,” says Rohit, a man in his twenties, who lives in one of scores of dilapidated government-built apartment blocks in Shivaji Enclave.

With a commission fee of up to 30,000 rupees ($550) and a maids’ monthly salary of up to 5,000 rupees ($90), an agency can make more than $1,500 annually for each girl, say anti-trafficking groups.

A ledger recovered after one police raid, shown by the charity Bachpan Bachao Andolan to Thomson Reuters Foundation, had the names, passport pictures and addresses of 111 girls from villages in far-away states like West Bengal, Jharkhand, Assam and Chhattisgarh, most of them minors.

The Delhi state government has written a draft bill to help regulate and monitor placement agencies and has invited civil society groups to provide feedback.

But anti-trafficking groups say what is really needed a country-wide law for these agencies, which are not just mushrooming in cities like Delhi but also Mumbai and other towns and cities.

The legislation would specify minimum wages, proper living and working conditions and a mechanism for financial redress for unpaid salaries. It would also specify that placement agencies keep updated record of all domestic workers which would subject to routine inspection by the labor department.

In the meantime, victims like Theresa Kerketa just want to warn others.

“The agencies and their brokers tell you lies. They trap you in the city where you have no money and know no one,” said Kerketa, now staying with a relative in a slum on the outskirts of south Delhi as she awaits compensation.

“I will go back and tell others. It is better to stay in your village, be beaten by your husband and live as a poor person, than come to the city and suffer at the hands of the rich.”

(TrustLaw is a global news service covering human rights and governance issues and run by the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters)

(Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)


By Nita Bhalla | Reuters

Extremist Hindus Rout Christians From Rural Indian Village.

Hindu worship

Hindus twice assaulted a Christian community in a rural India village early this month, beating believers, forcing them into Hindu worship rituals, and damaging their homes, according to Christian witnesses.

The Sunday worship meeting was underway Sept. 2 at the home of a new Christian, Daminbai Sahu, in Bhanpuri, a village in the Balod district of India’s state of Chhattisgarh. The witnesses said a group of villagers stormed into the house and beat several of the people attending the meeting, including a visiting pastor identified only as Dada, of the Philadelphia Fellowship.

The attackers accused Dada of forcefully converting Hindus to Christianity, the witnesses said, and dragged him out of the house. As hundreds gathered around the commotion, the extremists ordered Dada out of the village and threated to kill him if he returned, said Samuel Philip of the Church of God in Balod. They forced believers to renounce their faith in Christ late into the night, said Church of God Rev. Sandeep Claudius.

The following night, at 11, about 600 Hindu extremists stormed the houses of five Christian families belonging to the Philadelphia Fellowship, Claudius said. Led by four men he identified as Manish Sahu, Virendra Yadav, Vinod Gond and Vinod Sahu, the mob called the Christians “pagans” and accused them of trying to forcefully convert Hindus to Christianity. They threatened dire consequences if they did not give up their faith. They broke doors, damaged the houses and household items, Christian witnesses said.

Claudius said the extremists forced the Christians to bow before Hindu idols and chant Hindu slogans.

“We will not forsake Christ even at the point of death because He has forgiven our sins and gave us new life,” one victim, Deherram Sahu, told Open Doors News.

The extremists forced Sahu and believers from three other families, Sarjuram Sahu, his wife Janakbai Sahu, and Ubhayram Sahu to leave the village at about 1 a.m., in the monsoon rain. The four reached a small town of Gurur, about 12 kilometers away, and informed the church leaders at Balod. Later they found shelter in Balod with local Christians.

Christians remaining in Bhanpuri, including children and elderly, were unable to come out of their houses.

“The Christians were banned from collecting drinking water from the village well,” Philip said. “It was raining and the Christians collect some water from the rain. However after realizing that the Christians have little water in their houses, the extremists went over to their houses and threw all their water away.”

Family members were rescued from the village after some days by area church leaders. They went to the Gurur police station, but were turned away. “He advised the believers to go back to the village and worship Hindu gods,” Philip said.

Church leaders eventually prevailed upon the police to accept the complaint, and statements from the four believers evicted from Bhanpuri have been registered. But police have not filed a first-information report detailing the assaults.

The small Christian community of Bhanpuri has faced ostracism since converting to Christianity in 2006.

“They were not allowed to sell and buy in the village, were not allowed to draw water from the well, and were treated as outcasts,” Philip said. “They were not allowed to walk on the main road because the extremists were frightened that it will get contaminated because of their faith in Christ.”

The Open Doors International World Watch List describes India as a nation where Christians generally are free, but “violence against pastors and church gatherings continues on a monthly basis, usually in rural areas.” The World Watch List documented more than 100 incidents of violence against Christians in 2011.

The Indian constitution guarantees religious freedom, but in five of India’s 28 states, including Chhattisgarh, the law also forbids forced conversion from one religion to another. Christians under pressure in those states frequently face accusations that they are actively recruiting Hindus away from their religion.

In August, the high court of India’s northern state of Himachal Pradesh reaffirmed the law’s prohibition of forced conversion. But it struck down a 2006 addition to the law, one which requires a person to give the government 30-day notice before conversion.

“A person not only has a right of conscience, the right of belief, the right to change his belief, but also has the right to keep his beliefs secret,” the court ruled.


Indian Christians Forced Into Hindu Worship.

hindu worship

Hindu extremists forced 15 Christians to participate in Hindu worship rituals, then beat them up and rousted them from their village.

The Evangelical Fellowship of India said that on June 19, 150 Hindus rounded up 12 Christians in Jawanga, a village in the tropical Dakshin Bastar district of Chhattisgarh state, in eastern India.

The Christians were taken to the Pendevi Temple, where they were forced to worship tribal and Hindu deities, and to participate in Hindu rituals, Akhilesh Edgar of the Evangelical Fellowship of India told Open Doors News. He said the abductors then assaulted the Christians, though Edgar did not provide detail about the extent of any injuries they may have suffered.

Rather than let the Christians return home, the Hindus chased them out of the village. The Christians sought the help of John Nag, a pastor in Geelam about 5 kilometers from Jawanga, and Sonsingh Jhali, known locally as an advocate for Christians.

The Evangelical Fellowship of India said Nag and Asaram Bech, in whose house the Jawanga Christians sometimes held prayer meetings, approached the elected head of the village, who refused to permit the Christians’ return. The uprooted Jawanga villagers are staying with other Christians in Geelam, the organization said.

The evangelical group said the Christians did not file a complaint with the police, for fear of stirring religious tensions.

The June 19 episode is only the most recent example of harassment of Christians in Chhattisgarh. The Evangelical Fellowship of India reported in April that 300 residents of Belgal village disrupted the attempted burial of a man who had converted to Christianity. Ten people were injured, and the burial was completed after district authorities intervened.

At the national level, India is religiously pluralistic, encompassing the world’s third-largest Muslim population and about 25 million Christians, or about one of every 50 people in the country. Persecution of religious minorities generally intensifies at the regional and local levels, according to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

Chhattisgarh is one of five Indian states that has adopted a Freedom of Religion Act, which the commission says has had the opposite effect.

“While intended to reduce forced conversions and decrease communal violence, states with these laws have higher incidents of intimidation, harassment, and violence against religious minorities, particularly Christians,” the commission concluded in its 2012 annual report.

India is listed at No. 32 on the Open Doors World Watch list of the 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian. “Persecution is largely due to the amazing growth of Christianity among the low castes and Dalits, which threatens Hindu leaders,” according to the World Watch List. “Violence against pastors and church gatherings continues on a monthly basis, usually in rural areas.”


By Open Doors News

Hindu Villagers Attack Mourners in India.


Hindu extremists trying to stop the burial of a convert to Christianity last week in Chhattisgarh state beat a pastor and other Christians, including children and two 60-year-old women who fell unconscious, sources told Compass.

Jaikant Pawar, 31, of Balgal village, Kanker district, died on April 20 en route to a hospital; an asthma sufferer, he had complained of chest pains. When more than 40 Christians at the family’s house were taking his body out for burial, Hindu villagers who had surrounded the house stopped them.

“About 300 extremists led by the village head, Satnatram Pawar, suddenly surrounded the house shouting anti-Christian slogans, mocked and verbally abused us,” one Christian leader told Compass. “They slapped, kicked and beat us with their fists and slippers. The extremists threatened to kill us and challenged us to bring life back to the dead body of Pawar.”

At least 10 Christians sustained injuries and received medical treatment, sources said, adding that the attack went on for more than six hours. The assailants accused the Christians of having poisoned Pawar.

“The extremists were mocking us and said that Jesus, who calmed the storm, sent rain and who also raised up the dead, must also raise up Jaikant Pawar, and they forced us to pray,” the Christian leader said. “They threatened to pull off my skin if Jesus did not make Pawar alive again.”

The villagers beat Ganga Bhai and Suki Bhai, both 60 years old, he said.

“The Christians fled and scattered and some hid in their homes,” he said. “However, the extremists chased them and forcefully dragged them out from their houses. Two Christian children who were about 10 years old were pushed and thrown like a volleyball. They fell unconscious after some time.”

The leader, who suffered internal injuries in the attack, said he was beaten nearly unconscious, with the extremists pouring water on him to revive him when he was about to pass out. He and others eventually lost consciousness but were revived when a girl poured water on them; but one Christian, Pyaru Bihari, remained unconscious for 24 hours, he said.

At about 2 a.m. that night, the Hindu extremists told the Christians to remove the body from the village or be killed, sources said. The Christians carried the body to the Bande police station about 10 kilometers (6 miles) away, but police were unwilling to register a First Information Report, they said.

After pressure from area Christian leaders and the Evangelical Fellowship of India, the district collector and police investigated, source said.

The officials summoned the attackers, who then falsely accused the Christians of beating them. Police warned the villagers not to disturb the Christians again and worked out an agreement in which the body was allowed to be buried in Balgal.

On April 25, however, area Christians began to receive threats, according to Christian support organization Open Doors.

“Withdraw your complaint or face dire consequences, to the point of losing your lives,” they were warned, according to an Open Doors press statement.

Pawar and his wife converted to Christianity three years ago, remaining firm in their faith in spite of being ostracized by their family and community, a Christian leader told Compass.

“Pawar firmly believed in Christ, and he once said, ‘Jesus gives me peace, so I cannot leave Him,’ when his relatives and the villagers warned him to leave Christ,” said another church leader.

Since they were the only Christians in their village, the couple gathered with Christians in nearby Bande and Pakhanjur, according to Open Doors. Pawar had suffered from a sickle-cell disease as well as asthma, the organization stated, forcing him to be hospitalized earlier this month.


By Compass Direct News.

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