A Sikh family in the northern Indian state of Punjab reportedly choked a 24-year-old Christian woman unconscious for believing in Jesus and attacked the girl's sister and mother. The girl couldn’t speak for nearly a month and remains bedridden.
Five members of the family, one of whom was identified as Manjeet Singh, are alleged to have attacked the three women after they returned from an evening worship service in Ludhiana district’s Ghawaddi village, Morning Star News reported.
The 24-year-old victim is Meenu Kaur Tank. Her 27-year-old sister, Harpreet Kaur Tank, told the nonprofit persecution monitoring organization that she “is unable to come out of shock."
“She has lost her appetite and hardly talks," the sister explained. "[The assailant] caught my sister from the throat and pressed it so hard, almost choking her to death. She fell unconscious."
Meenu Kaur Tank was rushed to a hospital immediately after the 45-minute ordeal on June 20.
According to Morning Star News, Meenu Kaur Tank remains bedridden on strong medicines and sometimes falls in and out of consciousness. Although she has regained her voice, the sister said that she barely speaks.
Singh was accused of slapping and hitting their 48-year-old mother, Munesh Devi. His 22-year-old son, Monu, is said to have also punched and kicked the mother.
During the attack, the assailants also demeaned the family's Christian faith. Singh’s wife, daughter and younger brother, Sikander Singh, were also involved in the alleged assault.
Harpreet Kaur Tank said that their older sister, Gurjeet Kaur, who lives in the same village, came with her husband to rescue them. However, they, too, were attacked.
The confrontation started when Singh stopped Harpreet Kaur Tank while she was going to fetch water from a cooler outside a Sikh worship center near her home to serve a couple who had dropped them home from a Christian worship service. Singh complained that her guests had parked their car near the Sikh temple.
“Though it had nothing to do with Manjeet, yet I assured him that I will immediately get the car moved,” she said. However, Singh started berating her family for changing their religion for material gain.
The three women put their faith in Jesus in 2016.
“He [Jesus] did not know who His [earthly] father was. How can you follow such a man?” Singh reportedly told the family.
“They were five of them and surrounded us,” Harpreet Kaur Tank added. “They took turns and hit us on our heads, and when we would fall to the ground, they would kick us and punch us. As soon as we would rise, they would again hit us on the head, and we would fall to the ground again.”
According to attorney Nav Chahal, the police filed a complaint reluctantly and didn’t appear to investigate properly as the accused are influential.
Christians make up about 2.5% of India’s population. Although Sikhs are also a religious minority, Christians are seen as a soft target as Christianity is portrayed by Hindu nationalists as a “foreign” religion.
The persecution of Christians and other religious minorities, especially Muslims, has risen since the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party won the 2014 national elections. And attacks on Christians often go without prosecution.
India ranks as the 10th worst country globally when it comes to Christian persecution, according to Open Doors USA's 2021 World Watch List.
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom has urged the U.S. State Department to label India as a “country of particular concern” for engaging in or tolerating severe religious freedom violations.