Christian Mother Expelled from Village, Threatened with Death
When villagers kept her from harvesting her fields because she had invited a Christian pastor to pray for the harvest.
A tribal Adivasi mother in central India went to police thinking officers might help her.
Instead, the police inspector at the Polampalli police station in Chhattisgarh state showed Kanni Barse a section of the Indian constitution, read a few lines from it and asked her if she understood it, she said no.
The Indian constitution guarantees religious freedom, and Barse said she told the officer that she had some education, her husband was a teacher and that she had never heard the text he cited.
Three days later, she said, the inspector summoned Barse back to the police station, but when she arrived, she found the village elders and tribal animists surrounding it and did not dare try to enter.
“Afraid of what was happening, I called the inspector on the phone and told him that I will take the complaint back – it is enough if they would allow me to harvest the crop and work at the childcare center,” she said. “But the officer told me that the village elders said they want to fight this case.”
The tribal animist relatives who had expelled the Christian mother of four from her native Palamadugu village, in Sukma District, threatened to kill her if she returned, she said. The harvest was to feed the family for a year.
The attempt to obtain police help occurred in early January. Officers at Polampalli police station remained unavailable for comment despite several attempts to reach them.
After inviting the pastor to bless the harvest fields, she said, her relatives reviled her in extremely derogatory language.
“If they vow to kill, they will surely kill the person,” Barse said. “They are staunch, stone-hearted Adivasis.”
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