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Indian Americans express shock over church attack in Chhattisgarh; demand justice for victims

By TwoCircles.net, Staff Reporter

Washington: The Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC) , a US based advocacy group dedicated to safeguarding India’s pluralist and tolerant ethos, joined millions of Indians and other people around the world in strongly condemning the barbaric attack on a Christian pastor and his wife in Chhattisgarh.

The incident which took place on Sunday, April 17, was reported in the media a few days thereafter.

Two attackers had stormed into the church in Bastar district, set ablaze a Bible and other articles, before viciously assaulting the pastor Dinbandhu Sameli and his 7-month pregnant wife and daughter Roushni Vidya, according to news reports.

“Instead of filing charges of attempted murder, causing grievous injury, etc, the police have filed lesser charges such as house trespass, dacoity, and commit mischief by fire and injuring or defiling a place of worship. This brutal assault represents an escalation of attacks on minorities in India since the government of Narendra Modi came to power,” said a statement issued by IAMC.

“Around 15-20 men with saffron bands on their forehead entered the church while Sunday prayer was under way at around 12 pm, and started vandalising the premises and started breaking everything,” Pannalal said and claimed that the “Bajrang Dal youth indulged in sloganeering and were raising Jai Shree Ram slogans.

They started damaging chairs and fans. They did not spare women and even tore up their clothes. They also thrashed an infant,” Arun Pannalal, the President of Chhattisgarh’s Christian Forum was quoted as saying in some news reports by IAMC.

“The increasing attacks on minorities and lower castes in recent years are consistent with the extremism and intolerance (that) Modi and his party have espoused,” reads the statement.

“The hate and venom spewed by the RSS and its affiliates and echoed by prominent members of Modi’s administration are directly responsible for this barbaric attack on Pastor Sameli and his family” said Umar Malick, President of Indian American Muslim Council.

The IAMC also echoed the apprehensions raised by global human rights groups such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International over the worsening situation of religious minorities in India.

“Prime Minister Modi’s government, failed to address increasing attacks on free expression and against religious minorities,” Human Rights Watch had stated in its recent 659-page World Report.

“We demand not only that the perpetrators be held accountable, but also those who are engaging in a cover-up of the gruesome episode, and those that are enabling the sectarian hate that leads to such crimes,” said Khalid Ansari, Vice-President of IAMC.