MUMBAI – The Christian Secular Forum (CSF), the city-based activist community NGO strongly condemns the attack on tribal Christians in the Thane Rural district, who had scheduled the Christmas religious services in Talwada-Dodepada, Vikramgarh, Maharashtra. The police refused permission to the tribal Christians, who out of fear, wanted to shift the Christmas prayer meeting to Vasai. However, on the intervention of Dr. Abraham Mathai, vice-chairman, Maharashtra Minorities Commission, the police gave permission to have the religious service.
According to CSF, “The Hindutva brigade’s attempt to prevent the tribal Christians from having the religious service being frustrated, they took their anger out on a Christian tribal community leader, Laxman Giu Dumada, near whose house the proposed prayer meeting was to take place. Initially, they threatened the family and when they refused to cancel the religious service, a mob of about 50 miscreants barged into the venue and destroyed the mandap and other arrangements. Even women and children were not spared. Two youth Dhaklia Janya Shedhad and Rajaram Nandu Dhode were brutally beaten up and had to be admitted in the near-by Kasa Hospital with serious injuries,” reports reaching CSF said.
As a result Dr. Mathai and Christian fellow activist spent Christmas day in Vikramgarh to express solidarity with the tribal Christians there and ensure that the religious service passed off smoothly, with the tribals experiencing the love of the new-born Jesus, nearer at home.
The role of the police is suspect, particularly since there have been repeated complaints from the district of RSS cadres and its affiliated organisations like the Vanvasi Kalyan Parishad and other fringe groups have been terrorising the community.
“Great restrictions on the freedom of religion are placed on Christian tribals and even other tribals who have not converted are told that they are Hindus, even though they are animists. The Christian tribals are not given benefits and socially boycotted. The attack on the eve of Christmas is a clear attempt to deter the tribal Christians from practicing the faith of their choice and make them soft target and an example for those who don’t follow the diktats of the Hindutva brigade. No arrests have been made so far”, said Joseph Dias to the media.