For Immediate Release
September 16, 2011
Mob assaults baby and grandmother in India
BANGALORE, India—In the midst of a growing menace to law-abiding Christians in India, incidents of mob attacks continue to occur against Jehovah’s Witnesses in India’s southern state of Karnataka. The most recent assault took place on August 28, 2011, when a family of five were cruelly beaten in a village near Dharmasthala. Included in among the victims were the family’s 18-month-old baby and 60-year-old grandmother.
The Witness family was returning to visit a neighbor who had expressed interest in learning more about the Bible when they were accosted by a mob. After falsely accusing the Witness family of forcibly converting people, the mob began beating the two male members of the family with their fists and with sticks while the female members of the family suffered sexually degrading speech and even threats of rape. One of the attackers struck the 18-month-old girl, as she was being held in the arms of her mother. All four adults suffered injuries due to the brutal encounter that lasted for over an hour. Both the mob and the Witnesses filed complaints with the police. As has happened in previous incidents involving mob violence, the police initially refused to accept a counter-complaint by the Witnesses, while readily accepting the slanderous complaint of the attackers. It was only after seven hours of detainment that a counter-complaint from the Witnesses was accepted, after which they permitted the family to travel to a government hospital for medical attention.
Soon after, the Witness family was put under arrest on the charge of “maliciously insulting the religion or the religious beliefs of any class.” The attackers, however, were charged only with “voluntarily causing hurt.” The magistrate granted bail to the assailants, while the family, including the baby, spent the night in jail. The following day fellow Witnesses posted bail for the family and rushed them back to the hospital for treatment for their injuries.
Jehovah’s Witnesses have been victimized by mob violence in Karnataka on several occasions during 2011. “These mob attacks on innocent people in India are deplorable, especially attacking a family,” commented J. R. Brown, a spokesman at the Witnesses world headquarters in New York. “No one should be victimized for sharing a peaceful Christian message out of love for God and love of neighbor.”
J. R. Brown, Office of Public Information, tel. +1 718 560 5600
India: Local Contact, tel. +91 974 087 1150
Belgium: European Association of Jehovah’s Christian Witnesses, tel. +32 2 782 0015
Britain: European Association of Jehovah’s Christian Witnesses, tel. +44 208 906 2211