NEW DELHI (Morning Star News) – Tribal animists in central India drove a Christian family into the jungle last week, with one later intercepting their 9-year-old girl and threatening to kill her if she went to school again, her father said.
On Wednesday (March 11), two days after an attack expelling the Christians from Bilood village in Madhya Pradesh state, the wife of the primary assailant stopped the girl (name withheld) as she returned from school to her makeshift refuge in the jungle, her father said. The woman’s husband, identified only as Laxman, had led the March 9 attack on the family of pastor Lalu Kirade, with the assailants later demolishing their home in Khandwa District.
“Holding her by her hair, Laxman’s wife asked her how dare she enter the village,” Pastor Kirade said. “[Name withheld] told her that she cannot miss school as her annual examinations are taking place. But Laxman’s wife pulled my daughter’s hair and threatened her that she should not been seen in the village or she would be beaten to death.”
His daughter walked back to their jungle site crying the entire way, Pastor Kirade said.
“I cried before the Lord for hours, asking Him what the fault of my children was and why are they being treated this way,” the tearful pastor told Morning Star News.
He said he would not report either attack to police.
“My children are studying in the government school of the village – I cannot risk their lives,” he said. “If I make a complaint with the police, the assailants will not spare my children.”
Instigated by Hindu extremists from the Bajrang Dal, villagers who worship ancestors and objects in nature arrived at the pastor’s property on March 9 and told them they would be expelled unless they abandoned Christianity, sources said.
“He [Laxman] was inebriated when he came to my house around 5 in the evening and began to question me about my faith,” Pastor Kirade said, noting that villagers often become intoxicated as they celebrate the Hindu festival of colors known as Holi.
Trying to provoke a fight outside their home, Laxman asked why the pastor did not indulge in drinking and dancing to celebrate the festival, he said. The villager harassed the family for about two hours with questions that insulted Christianity, and the pastor asked him to leave, he said.
“Laxman began to beat my youngest [5-year-old] son, and I somehow rescued him,” Pastor Kirade told Morning Star News.
Two hours later, Laxman returned with a wooden rod and began to break items that lay outside the family’s home. Laxman’s wife and others from outside the village joined him, the pastor said. Seven or eight people with wooden rods began assaulting his parents, he said.
The pastor’s 65-year-old father, Dildaar Kirade, told Morning Star News they punched him eight to 10 times on the back and hand. The pastor’s mother, 60-year-old Rekha Bai Kirade, said they struck her with their fists four or five times on her back, and that she was still in pain.
Pastor Kirade said he knew most of the four or five villagers who then joined in the assault.
“My next-door neighbor, his wife, his three sons, other men from the village who knew me since my birth, joined hands with Laxman and broke my house and demanded that I be excommunicated,” Pastor Kirade, who was born in the village, said in tears.
As the raucous mob began to demolish his house, the pastor took his three boys, ages 5, 8 and 11, along with his daughter and parents, and escaped to thick jungle about one mile away. His wife was away visiting her parents.
Pastor Kirade’s congregation later informed him that the assailants demolished his home and warned that if they see him in the village again, they will kill him.