India: Hindu nationalists attack Christian village in Chhattisgarh

Created in 2000, the state of Chhattisgarh, in eastern India, is 80% populated by “tribals” (or adivasi), very poor and mostly illiterate. Many of these adivasis gradually converted to Christianity from the end of the 19th century.e century, thanks to Catholic and Protestant missionaries who built schools and dispensaries in these forest regions.

By becoming Christians, the “tribals” are gradually emerging from the submission and misery in which they had been held for centuries by the Hindus of the upper castes. However, these form most of the members of the BJP (nationalist party in power with the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi) and of the RSS (radical Hindu organization).

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Regularly, attacks carried out by BJP and RSS troops target Christians in “tribal” villages, as was the case in August 2008 in Kandhamal (State of Orissa, bordering Chhattisgarh), when 101 Christians were murdered. because of their faith.

On September 22 and 23, 16 houses of “tribal” Christians were attacked in three villages of Chhattisgarh (Kakrabeda, Singanpur and Tiliyabeda). ” Women and children were also assaulted and were only saved because they ran into the forest to hide. Pastor Moses Logan told Ucanews.

Villagers noticed unusual movements and gatherings in villages three days before the attack and informed police., explained the pastor. But the police took no action or granted any protection. “

In the presence of police

Worse, according to Pastor Logan, the police and other district officials present did not stop the crowd of men – armed with sticks and stakes – from demolishing the houses and terrorizing the villagers.

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For his part, Arun Pannalal, president of the Christian Ecumenical Forum of Chattisgarh, organized the accommodation of more than 20 adivasis who fled their villages and fearing for their lives.
Unfortunately, the police did not agree to take into account complaints from villagers who are now homeless and forced to flee. ”Arun Pannalal told Ucanews on October 2.

Days earlier, on September 28, Pastor Logan, who is also president of the Christian Welfare Society of Chattisgarh, called on Minister of State Bhupesh Baghel to prosecute the criminals and compensate the 16 families. Christians from the three villages.

Along with these attacks in Chattisgarh, the RSS and VHP groups (Vishva Hindu Parishad, or World Hindu Council, a far-right Hindu nationalist organization)
have just launched a national campaign against religious conversions, in particular against conversions to Christianity.

The Catholic Church in India is not looking for conversions, and if the RSS and VHP say we are doing it, then they will prove it », Reacted Father Nicholas Barla, secretary of the Commission for Indigenous Affairs of the Indian Bishops’ Conference (CBCI). ” These groups regularly accuse us of conversions, but there is no data to prove this, insisted Father Barla. Moreover, everyone recognizes that the Church is involved in many charitable works. Our main concern is that this humanitarian work could be interpreted as an attempt at conversion, which is wrong.. “

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On the side of the United Christian Forum (UCFHR), it is confirmed that these accusations of conversions are not found in the government figures. ” Census after census, the Christian minority still represents around 2.3% of the Indian population, says AC Michael, national coordinator of UCFHR. Would RSS and VHP have hidden data that we don’t have? “And to recall that the right to religious freedom is” a fundamental right guaranteed by the Indian Constitution “.

As for Sajan K. George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), he notes that if there are any conversions, they are reported within the majority Adivasis regions (in the States of Bihar, Chhattisgarh, from Jharkhand, Jammu and Kashmir, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa and West Bengal) and considers that the RSS and the VHP seek to “ spread hatred against Christians by germinating the seeds of an anti-Christian spirit “.


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