by Nirmala Carvalho
Delhi (AsiaNews) – Using a baseless accusation of slaughtering a cow, a group of ‘sacred crow vigilantes’ attacked tribal Dalit Christians in a village in the state of Jharkhand, this according to Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC)
The victims were beaten, had their heads shaved, and were forced to sing Jai Shri Ram (Victory to Lord Ram). The incident took place on 16 September, George told AsiaNews, but it became public only last Friday after activist and former district council member Neel Justin Beck reported it.
In India, cows are considered sacred and are a sensitive issue for the Hindu majority. There are frequent violent attacks against minorities who slaughter animals for the meat; the main victims are usually Muslims, but Christians have been targeted as well.
This time the attack involved seven Christians living a tribal area in Jharkhand, who were accused without proof of slaughtering an animal.
Deepak Kullu, a 26-year-old tribal Christian from Bherikudar, Simdega district, about 145 km southwest of Ranchi, reports that a group of more than 25 people armed with sticks and clubs entered the village in the early hours of the morning.
The attackers came from neighbouring villages, according to early reports. They first assaulted Raj Singh Kullu and verbally abused his wife Jacqueline Kullu’s caste. When they were asked to explain themselves, they “started screaming and accusing us of slaughtering a cow”.
The group continued to attack and hit, even showing a video (most likely a fake or one that was artfully made) in which an old man from a nearby village claims to have seen the killing of animals.
Forcibly dragged into the village of Mahato Tola, half a kilometre away, the victims were beaten up and forced to chant “Jai Shri Ram”.
The police, called by the attackers who suffered minor injuries that did not need medical attention, searched the homes of Christians but found no evidence of the “crime”.
The following day, Jacqueline Kullu filed a complaint about the attack, which Simdega district police superintendent Shams Tabrez confirmed. Police then proceeded to arrest four people and are still seeking another ten.
“Tribal Christians are occasionally attacked by groups of ‘cow vigilantes’ affiliated with the far right, on false charges and baseless evidence of slaughtering animals,” Sajan K George told AsiaNews.
“They use the issue of cow protection as a pretext, as do local administrations” which support, either tacitly or openly, the abuses. These things have already happened in Jharkhand, where “tribal Christians have been killed by such vigilante groups”.
The “Hinduisation” of tribal people began “decades ago with the rise of right-wing political leaders,” explained the Christian activist, and grew stronger with aggression, violence, and targeted attacks as well as “the denial of the rights inherent in the culture of the tribal population.”
In some states, there are no specific laws that punish cattle slaughter; however, with the rise of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), many punitive restrictions have been introduced. “Jharkhand itself has seen several episodes of lynching of tribal people and Muslims” because of groundless claims.
This story first appeared on asianews.it