A group of men belonging to DYFI, allegedly in an inebriated state, had attacked the families while they were carolling for Christmas and molested women in the carol team, according to the victims.
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Kottayam: On 23 December, 25 people from Dalit families, including women, who were part of a carol team of St Paul’s Anglican Church at Pathamuttam, in Kerala’s Kottayam district, were reportedly attacked by the DYFI, the youth wing of ruling CPI(M). Ever since, the families have not left the church fearing for their lives.
According to reports, Chingavanam police arrested seven individuals in connection with the case including six DYFI workers. All those arrested were later granted bail. However, the family members allege that DYFI workers continue to threaten them and that they were forced to stay in the church.
A group of men belonging to DYFI, allegedly in an inebriated state, had attacked the families while they were carolling for Christmas and molested women in the carol team, according to the victims. The same night, church secretary Robin Johnson said, the gang vandalised the church and left several people injured.
He said that after the initial attack on the carol team, the group was camping at the church when the youths regrouped and reached the church at night. “They threw stones at women and children, leaving many of them injured. The gang vandalised the church, destroyed food prepared for the faithful and left only after the carol team raised alarm by chiming the bell,’’ Johnson said in a report by The Indian Express.
According to Johnson, the victims are daily labourers, and since the incident, none has gone for work. “They fear being attacked again. The assailants roam around the church premises and issue threats,” he alleged in the report.
“The frightened women and children hid behind the altar to escape from the rampaging youth. The violence was triggered when the youths who had joined the Carol team were questioned when they started flashing. The gang went berserk, damaging equipment at the church and targeting four nearby houses and two-wheelers and an autorickshaw. They also destroyed food and molested women carollers. A BTech student, Yamiya C. Thankachan, sustained serious injuries in stone pelting. The girl says she could not concentrate on her studies due to fear and that she was attacked by the assailants,” The Week reported.
“On Saturday evening, former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy visited the families and expressed his support. “The government must conduct an impartial enquiry into the issue and arrest all the accused. The family members are afraid to leave their homes,” said Chandy. The UDF district committee will also conduct a long march to Kottayam SP's office on January 4. Meanwhile, opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala submitted a letter to Kerala DGP Loknath Beher, seeking immediate action against the DYFI workers involved,” TNM reported.