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Persecution India – Extreme humiliation

April 2016

A Christian man in India was shaved and paraded around town on a donkey in an act of extreme humiliation, after he was falsely accused of converting three Hindus to Christianity.

Reports from Barnabas Fund claimed that, in January, approximately 20 men — thought to be from the Hindu nationalist Bajrang Dal group — stormed the home of Awadesh Savita and his wife, in Randhar village, in the Jalaun district of Uttar Pradesh state.

They took the 35-year-old Christian man to the nearby town of Orai and hired a barber to shave his head, as well as half of his moustache and one eyebrow. Then they put a garland of shoes around his neck and paraded him through the town on a donkey. Each act was designed to inflict maximum public humiliation, according to local customs.

Nearly 200 people were eventually involved in the incident. The men took Awadesh Savita to the police station, accusing him of having converted three Hindus to Christianity.

However, Mr Savita denied the accusations, telling police, ‘I have been practising Christianity for the last few years but I have never insisted on converting anybody’.

Police have arrested 20 people, suspected Bajrang Dal members, in relation to the attack. The Bajrang Dal group is known to be particularly active in the Jalaun District. There has been significant unrest due to religious conflicts in the area. In Jalaun town itself, there are 41 large temples, compared to 33 schools and colleges.

Five Indian states have anti-conversion laws in place that make it illegal to convert someone from one religion to another by means of force, fraud or allurement, but Uttar Pradesh is not one of these five.