A church, two shops and a tractor belonging to the minority Christian community were set ablaze by a mob at Sial village in Rajouri district on Tuesday evening after a Hindu family alleged foul play in the death of their daughter who, they said, was being pressured by her husband to convert to Christianity.
Seema Devi (25) died on Monday in Jalandhar. Her husband Rinku (30) was arrested on Tuesday after he brought the body to the Rajouri village. Inquest proceedings under Section 174 CrPC — invoked when circumstances around a death raise reasonable suspicion — have started.
Seema’s family said that when she married Rinku 15 months ago, they were unaware that the groom was Christian. Rinku was a worker in a vegetable mandi in Jalandhar. “We came to know about it (that Rinku was Christian) last month when Rinku took Seema to Jalandhar to attend Christmas prayers,” said Seema’s uncle Joginder.
He said that after returning from the prayers “she seemed unwell and kept silent”. Her parents offered to take her to a doctor, but Rinku and his family did not agree and took her to a local church, saying she would be cured through prayers. On January 8, the two went to Jalandhar, where Seema died, Joginder said.
When Rinku returned to Sial with Seema’s body, her family said they noticed blue marks on her body, Joginder said. Police Tuesday took the body for post-mortem.
Sial is a pre-dominantly Hindu village with less than half a dozen Christian families. When Seema’s body was brought to Sial, people in large numbers gathered and many tried to link her death to alleged pressure to convert to Christianity. The family cremated her body on the premises of the local church. Later, the church was razed by a mob, sources said.
The mob also set ablaze two shops belonging to the minority community and a tractor. They attacked Rinku’s house, but the police intervened then. Nearly two dozen people were injured. Subdivisional magistrate, Sunderbani, Kartar Singh, said: “We offered to start a magisterial inquiry, but they (the family) did not insist.’’