Jaishree Daberao, a 25-year-old Christian woman, sits quietly on a corner bed of a government run hospital in Akola, a far-off district in India’s western state of Maharashtra.
Her eyes are closed, and she folds her hands while muttering a prayer for the safety of the child she has been carrying in her womb for eight months.
Medicos attending Jaishree have termed her condition concerning and extremely worrying for her unborn child.
All that Jaishree wants is the well-being of her child.
“Even if it means sacrificing my own life I want my child to live. It is scary to even imagine finding him dead in my womb,” Jaishree said.
Jaishree and her unborn child are in their situation after being attacked by a mob of men in her village of Badegoan.
Sometime during the night of Feb.11 she exited her house and went into the fields to relieve herself as toilets in rural India are a luxury only few can afford.
As Jaishree walked to the fields, an unidentified man threw sliced pieces of lemon and red chili powder at her face; food items that she said are used for casting black magic on someone. Hounded and terrified, she ran back to her house and told her father, Kialash Daberao, what occurred.
Her father and brother Amol rushed outside to where Jaishree had been harassed and quickly found themselves surrounded by men who attacked them.
Kialash’s house is the only Christian home amidst 250 plus Hindu households. Kialash, 50, is a pastor who works as a farmer and evangelizer.
A local from the village, who wanted to remain anonymous, told LiCAS.news what occurred to the family.
“They were surrounded from all sides and Kialash was abused for his faith. He was ridiculed by the goons who told him that he was polluting the village by propagating a foreign faith,” the villager said.
“The father, the son, the daughter were then attacked with rocks and rods,” he said, adding that some friendly villagers then took the injured family to hospital.
Not the first time
Pastor Naresh Wankhade, who lives in a nearby village and often accompanies Kailash for evangelization efforts in the area, said it wasn’t the first time Kialash and his family have been targeted for their faith.
“In 2011 Pastor Kailash’s family was attacked by fanatics because he was holding a mass prayer at his house,” he said.
Naresh said he had heard about the Feb.11 incident from one Kailash’s family members.
“I rushed towards his house and found Kailash in a miserable condition. His arm and his leg were fractured, and his head had sustained injuries,” he said, noting that pregnant Jaishree had been injured by the attackers.
“Kailash’s elder son Amol was severely wounded. He has been shifted to Nagpur hospital in a critical condition and is in the intensive care unit,” he said.
Naresh said that police have registered a report about the incident and have already arrested some people over the assaults.
“The accused are now giving the attack a different color. They say Kailash has grabbed their land and that it was a land dispute, but people aren’t attacked in such a manner in land disputes. It was a mob attack on a lone, poor Christian family of the village,” Naresh said.
Shibu Thomas, from Christian organization Persecution Relief, said poor Christians are often targeted for their faith.
“House meetings are being attacked across many states of India. We have recorded more than 159 incidents of physical attacks and 81 cases of boycott and excommunication in the year 2020,” Thomas told LiCAS.news.
The US Commission for International Religious Freedom, an independent body dedicated to protecting freedom of religion, has recently recommended India to be listed as a “country of particular concern.”
United Nations officials have recently raised concerns over what they describe as “the growing trend of violence towards religious minorities” in the country.
Christians make up 2.3 percent of India’s population of more than 1.3 billion of whom some 80 percent are Hindu. There are about 200 million Muslims in the country.