For Immediate Release
February 10, 2011
Police side with mob in attack against Christian women in India
DAVANAGERE, India—Two women were attacked by an angry mob in Karnataka State after comforting a grieving neighbor who had lost her husband. One of the women was beaten, and both were detained by police.
Two women who are Jehovah’s Witnesses were invited into the home of their neighbor in the city of Davanagere, located in central India, on the morning of December 20, 2010. The Witnesses had met the woman a few years ago and were seeking to share a positive thought from the Bible with her after learning that her husband had died. The neighbor expressed gratitude for the comforting message, especially since one of the Witnesses was herself a widow. However, upon leaving the home, the women were confronted by a man who falsely accused them of converting people and threatened to make trouble for them.
Minutes after the Witnesses returned to the home belonging to one of the women, a mob surrounded the house. Led by the man who had threatened trouble, the mob entered the home by force and began screaming obscenities at the women inside, calling one of them a prostitute. Ignoring all attempts to reason, the mob began destroying religious literature. The attackers called some women standing outside and told them to beat the two Witnesses. Consequently, the female members of the mob began to beat one of the women and forcibly prevented either of them from escaping. The police arrived on the scene, but instead of dispersing the mob, they took the two Witnesses into custody and brought them to the station for questioning, where the women were forced to sign papers that they were not allowed to read. The Witnesses were eventually taken into custody, arrested and charged for blasphemy under Section 295A of the Indian Penal Code. The two women were granted bail by the magistrate the following evening.
One of the victims relates, “During the entire incident the police made no effort to disperse the mob and restore public order. Our complaint was neither registered as a First Information Report nor recorded in the police diary; instead a Report was made using false information about what we said and did.” She added, “Even when we were at the police station, the mob gathered and began to assault our friend who came to assist us.”
This is the most recent incident in a growing trend of unchecked mob violence against this Christian faith. Documented cases show that it is not uncommon for the local police to align themselves with the attacking mob or to stand idle, watching as the mob destroys the personal property of Jehovah’s Witnesses or physically assaults them.
At present, there are over 30,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses in India, who worship in more than 400 congregations.
In Belgium: European Association of Jehovah’s Christian Witnesses
Telephone: +32 2 782 0015
Mobile: +32 475 58 10 36
In Britain: European Association of Jehovah’s Christian Witnesses
Telephone: +44 208 906 2211
In United States: J. R. Brown, telephone:+1 718 560 5600