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Christians file case against Hindu extremists for persecution in India

Christian members of the 'Kattunaickar' Scheduled Tribe filed the case at the High Court at the Madras Madurai Bench in Tamil Nadu after facing years of hardship because of their beliefs.

There are approximately 100 Christian converts living among the predominantly Hindu tribe, based in the village of Sathyamoorthy Nagar in the Madurai District.

Local sources say that the hostilities towards the Christians started in 2004, but religious discrimination escalated when the local extremist group Hindu Munani, began to systematically target Christians in 2016.

The Hindu Munani have now imposed sanctions on Christian families there, preventing them from purchasing food, attending public ceremonies and accessing public roads and water supplies. Christian children are prohibited from mixing with Hindu's in the playground and a tax of 50,000 rupees (approx £590) has been enforced for all families in the area who do not follow the Hindu faith.

The case at the High Court has been filed against 11 respondents, which includes members of the Hindu Munani, the District Collector, the Superintendent of Police, the Revenue Divisional Officer and the Inspector of Police.

An order to prevent the respondents from imposing penalties and excommunicating the Christians and request for police protection has been submitted.

The petitioner of the case, who cannot be named for security reasons said that the hostile environment has escalated to physical violence and accusations of forcible conversions and attempts to address the concerns with district officials have, at present, proven futile.

C.J. Rajan, a human rights advocate who is representing the Christian community, said: "The rule of law is being fully violated in the Sathiamoorthy Nagar issue. No efforts have been made on the part of the government towards bringing peace in the village.

"Minority Christian rights are fully violated. It is the failure of Madurai district authorities."

Freedom charity Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) has called the continued mistreatment of and hatred towards Christian's in the region a "miscarriage of justice".

CSW's Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said: "It is in such an environment that hate is allowed to fester into acute violence that can lead to targeted communal attacks, as seen in the district of Kandhamal, Odhisa over a decade ago where Christians were attacked for their faith.

"We urge the authorities to act quickly and to take necessary measures to ensure that the perpetrators of this crime are brought to justice so that the families can resume a normal life without fear."

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