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Christian Educator Assaulted and Unjustly Charged Amidst Student Journey in Central India

In a concerning incident on July 26, police in Manikpur, Chhattisgarh state, reportedly beat a Christian educator, Liju Kuriakose, and leveled baseless charges of human trafficking and fraudulent conversion against him and the eight Christian students he was accompanying to a Bible institute. 

The students, including five minors, had been traveling from Manikpur to Kochi, Kerala state, to pursue their studies.

According to sources, Kuriakose had undertaken the journey to ensure the safety of the students, who hailed from tribal Christian families. Tragedy struck when their bus was suddenly halted by a passenger who directed it to Manikpur police station. Authorities then subjected Kuriakose to intense questioning and physical abuse, resulting in his arrest and confinement.

During the interrogation, the police attempted to coerce the students, some as young as 15, to fabricate stories of trafficking, despite their protestations that they were already Christians and not converts. The students, who were on their way to a Bible institute, courageously refused to comply with the police’s demands. However, after their resistance, the police sent them to the Child Welfare Committee’s home.

Kuriakose described the police’s treatment as “very violent,” recounting how they questioned him late into the night, denying him basic necessities and subjecting him to physical abuse. It was only after parents of the students learned of their situation and Kuriakose’s arrest that the ordeal began to come to light.

After an agonizing night, Kuriakose’s interrogation continued the following day, during which he endured the grilling of various police officers, including higher-ranking officials. Ultimately, a First Information Report (FIR) was filed against him, charging him with human trafficking and fraudulent conversion.

Despite the students’ refusal to testify against Kuriakose, he was released on bail, with a scheduled court appearance on August 18 before the Judicial Magistrate of First Class in Ambikapur.

Liju Kuriakose’s commitment to the students’ education was evident, as he expressed concern for their well-being and hoped to facilitate their studies within Chhattisgarh state to spare them the need to travel.

Religious rights advocates have noted the escalated hostility towards non-Hindus in India, particularly since the rise of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance government in 2014. This environment has reportedly emboldened Hindu extremists, leading to sporadic attacks against Christians and other minority groups.

India’s ranking on the 2023 World Watch List, compiled by Christian support organization Open Doors, underscores these concerns. The country was placed 11th on the list of nations where it is most challenging to practice Christianity, highlighting the erosion of religious freedom since Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s tenure began…read more

 

Original News Source: Morning Star News

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