Christians Allege Social Boycott In Jammu Village After Church Vandalized
A police post set up to protect Christian families in Jammu’s Sayal village has done little to boost the sense of security among those facing social boycott
JAMMU: Caught in the web of religious hatred, social boycott and alleged forced conversion, four Christian families have been living in fear in a remote village in Nowshera in Jammu region.
Among them is Priya Kumari, a Class 12 student who could not write her board exams.
“I cannot go to school and I could not write my exams. I missed all the papers because of fear that I could be kidnapped,” said Priya.
A police post set up for the protection of Christian families has done little to boost the sense of security among those who have been facing social boycott for the past two months.
Priya’s family says trouble began on January 15 following the death of her sister Seema Devi. The 26-year-old ailing woman had been taken to a church for spiritual healing.
Kala Ram says the family converted to Christianity 10 years ago and the death of her sister was made an excuse to burn their property and the church at Sayal village.
“Our only source of income was my tractor and that too was burnt. Now they are telling me I will get insurance. When will I get that, in three years? What will I do till then? The attackers are still roaming freely and we have been ostracized,” said Mr Ram.
Ravinder Raina, the local BJP lawmaker, claims that after his intervention the social boycott of Christian families is now over but he blames forcible conversions by missionaries for the situation.
“Those who forcibly convert people should desist from such activities. Instead of taking her (Seema Devi) to hospital, they took her to a church at Amritsar in Punjab. These things will have repercussions. It became a problem after the death of the woman,” said Mr Raina.
“I held a meeting with people from all communities and resolved the issue. Now, there is no atmosphere of fear,” he asserted.
Mr Ram denied any forcible conversion by missionaries. He said his brother, who works with the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), was healed after he attended church services last year. “How can they blame the church for the death of my sister?” he said.
A first information report (FIR) was filed, but no one has been arrested yet. The district magistrate said the probe is in the final stage. Officials say the government will pay compensation to those affected.
But police deployment in the village has not made any difference. “We are not allowed to attend any social function. We cannot even go to offer our condolence if someone dies,” said Mr Ram.
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