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Chhattisgarh politicians terrorize Christians, pressurize police


Chhattisgarh politicians terrorize Christians, pressurize police

EFI Religious Liberty Commission calls on Chief Minister to restore rule of law in villages

The EFI Religious Liberty Commission has called upon the Chief Minister of the State of Chhattisgarh to intervene urgently to restore the rule of law in various villages where cadres of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal have attacked Christians. Senior leaders of the ruling Bharatiya Janata party, including members of the Legislative Assembly, instead of reassuring the minority community have led forcible conversions ceremonies.

In a letter to Dr. Raman Singh, the Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh, Reverend Vijayesh Lal, Secretary of the EFI Religious Liberties Commission said "the situation has suddenly deteriorated rapidly in the last four months, and today the tiny Christian community in the state lives in a state of terror and trepidation, fearing for their lives, their security an their homes. Above all they fear for their identity as Christians, their freedom of faith, and the safety of their places of worship."

Rev Lal said Panchayati Raj structures had been perverted by violent and aggressive cadres of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Bajrang Dal who have coerced officials and village heads. The police have not been able to assure safety and security. "In fact we see gross impunity, and sometimes connivance with the lawless elements."

The EFIRLC specifically referred to violence in Madota village, Police Station Bhanpuri, District Bastar, Chhattisgarh (about 40 kilometres from Jagdalpur) which shows an unholy nexus between the hoodlums on the ground, political organisations and politicians in high office. In and its surrounding areas Christian families have had many visits from Hindu groups forcing them to convert to Hinduism or face the consequences. The village has already witnessed an order prohibiting the visit of any Christian pastor or leader who is not a local of Madota village. No such rule exists for leaders of the VHP who frequent the village.

The village saw anti Christian violence on 14th September when people at prayer in the Carmel Pentecostal Church were attacked by members of Bajrang Dal and VHP. Over 30 karyakartas [cadres] of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad entered the church, raising slogans of "Isaiyon ko maro, Ramrajya leke aao", [Eliminate the Christians, Bring in the Kingdom of Lord Rama] and began beating up the persons present, including women and children. They threatened the members of Christian community present there that if they did not come back into their old religion i.e. the Hindu fold, they would not be allowed to drink water from the communal water sources, they would not be allowed to reap their harvests and would be dispossessed of their lands, and might even lose their lives. The Christian community tried to register a complaint at the local police station at Bhanpuri, however the Town Inspector (TI - Stationhouse Officer), he refused to register an FIR [First Information Report].

On 9th October the local BJP MLA Dinesh Kashyap led an event at Kunkuda village, in which he claimed to re-convert to Hinduism, 33 Christians from 10 families.

"All this is not acceptable in a democracy. It also goes counter to the promise of communal harmony made by the Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi, in his address to the nation from the Red Fort on 15th August 2014, and later. We hope you will also intervene with the non-state actors, including the VHP and the Bajrang Dal, and call upon them to desist from such activities," Rev Vijayesh Lal said.

Encl; Factsheet on Anti-Christian violence in Chhattisgarh: