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Mobs in India attack JehovahÂ?s Witnesses with impunity

Posted by onetarogers on June 7, 2011 at 10:32 PM

Mobs in India attack Jehovah’s Witnesses with impunity BANGALORE, India—Incidents of mob attacks against Jehovah’s Witnesses have been reported with increasing frequency in some states in India. The attackers gather in gangs of 20 to 50 individuals to intimidate small groups of Witnesses engaging in the peaceful Christian ministry that they are well-known for. Some of the mobs threaten to murder and rape the Witnesses.

On March 26, 2011, in the southern state of Karnataka, a group of four Witnesses (three adult females and one adult male) had just finished enjoying several friendly conversations with people in a village near the town of Madikeri, when they were approached by a man who inquired about the purpose of their visit. The man began placing cell phone calls to individuals belonging to the groups Bajrang Dal (a militant Hindu organization) and Jagran Vedike. This led to a mob of 50 people surrounding the Witnesses, threatening the three women with rape, and attempting to tie the man to a tree, douse him with kerosene, and burn him alive. After several minutes of abuse, the police arrived and brought the Witnesses to the station for questioning. All four Witnesses were arrested and ordered to spend four days in jail before being released on bail. On April 1, 2011, a member of the Witnesses’ human rights legal staff, along with three of his associates (one of the associates being a non-Witness), traveled to the village where the mob activity occurred to obtain firsthand information. However, the four were ambushed by a mob on their way back. The Witnesses in the group were verbally abused, beaten with belts and sticks, stripped of their clothing, and then forced to walk in a half-naked state along a public road. The non-Witness was not assaulted. Thereafter, the mob called a few local television stations to come and film the incident. The Witnesses were then taken to the police station where they were criminally charged, based on the fabricated statements of the mob. They were released from jail six days later. A similar incident occurred on the same day in the state capital of Bangalore. Two Jehovah’s Witnesses were speaking to a man on the topic of raising children in today’s challenging society. Although the man was initially friendly toward the Witnesses, they noticed the man making a phone call urging a friend to come to his apartment while the Witnesses were still there. The Witnesses also observed that the friend, upon arrival at the apartment, began calling several others. Sensing what was happening, the two Witnesses tried to leave peacefully, but were prevented from doing so by a growing mob. The mob began beating the two Witnesses along with two other Witnesses who were also present in the area. Finally, the attackers dragged the four Witnesses to the police station and contacted a local news station. One of the attackers inside the police station tore his own shirt, and then went outside claiming that the Witnesses had assaulted him and tore his shirt when he refused to convert. The man was interviewed by a reporter and his fabricated statement was later publicized in the local news coverage of the incident. All four Witnesses spent one night in jail and were released the following day on a cash bail of 10,000 INR ($226 US) each.

Criminal complaints have been filed in all three incidents, requesting the police to investigate and prosecute the violent actions of those responsible for the mob attacks. These attacks are a clear violation of constitutional rights protecting freedom of religion in India.

Contacts:

Belgium: European Association of Jehovah’s Christian Witnesses, tel. +32 2 782 0015; mobile +32 475 58 10 36

Britain: European Association of Jehovah’s Christian Witnesses, tel. +44 208 906 2211

United States: J. R. Brown, tel. +1 718 560 5600

Last updated 07 June 2011 17:37:58 GMT

 


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