The Evangelical Fellowship of India expresses concern at the alarming rate at which the Christian community is being targeted in India. The EFI’s Religious Liberty Commission recorded more than 38 incidents targeting the Christian community in November – December 2014, with 31 incidents taking place in December alone. The incidents range from physical violence, false accusations, disruption of church services / Christmas functions, to the hate campaigns and the pressure to convert to Hinduism that the Christian community is facing almost on a daily basis in India.
The EFI also expresses concern at the way that Christmas celebrations in India were sought to be diluted by the government’s call to observe Governance day on the day most sacred to the Christian community in India. While the Church stands with the present government in their nationwide agenda of development and Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas’, the EFI feels that any development must be inclusive and keeping in mind the feelings of every community.
Throughout the season of advent, the re-conversion campaign’ by the RSS and its affiliates has made the news headlines. EFI stands for freedom of conscience and welcomes all conversions whether to any faith when made by free will. However EFI has noted incidents of forced conversions wherein Christians have been forced by the above mentioned groups to convert to Hinduism. Forcible conversions cannot be accepted or allowed in a functioning democracy.
EFI calls on the Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi to assuage the fears that the Christian community is feeling as a result of the recent happenings and the pressure of forcible conversions looming large. Measures to boost the confidence of the minorities in India will result in much goodwill for the government and will boost the image of our beloved country globally as a responsible and inclusive nation.
We wish the nation a blessed and prosperous new year 2015.
God Bless India.
List of Incidents State wise
Uttar Pradesh – 13 incidents
Madhya Pradesh – 8 incidents
Chhattisgarh – 4 incidents
Delhi – 4 incidents
Punjab – 2 incidents
Bihar – 2 incidents
Tamil Nadu – 1 incident
Karnataka – 1 incident
Assam – 1 incident
Andhra Pradesh – 1 incident
Gujarat – 1 incident
|1||Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh||4th November 2014||Members of Bajrang Dal attacked 7 Christians including one Pastor from Mumbai, beat them up and got them arrested in Bhopal. The Christians were stripped and beaten mercilessly by fists and belts, causing internal injuries.|
|2||Indore, Madhya Pradesh||7th November 2014||A Christian was falsely accused, detained and later arrested on allegations of forced conversions in Indore. According to reports from local sources, Hindu extremists threw cross necklaces in the house where the Christians had gathered and then stormed inside alleging forced conversions. A police complaint alleging that the Christian was forcing them to wear cross necklaces and hence converting them was filed at the local police complaint. The Christian was detained for over four hours at the Chandan Nagar Police Station post the incident and was released later.|
|3||Udumalpet, Tamil Nadu||16th November 2014||Over 100 Hindu extremists attacked a Christian community in Udumalpet, Tamil Nadu. The community was attacked when they were participating in a prayer service. The attackers not only beat the Christians present but also burnt more than 20 vehicles belonging to the Christians. They desecrated Bibles, burnt the altar of the Church and destroyed Church property including musical instruments. The Christians were threatened even when they were being treated for injuries at the local hospital.|
|4||Rajnandgaon, Chhattisgarh||16th November 2014||Members of the VHP and the Bajrang Dal stormed the Sunday worship service of the Masihi Aradhna Church in Rajnandgaon, Chhattisgarh and beat the Church members up. The attackers were looking for the Pastor who was hidden by the Church members as there was a threat to his life.|
|5||Kolar, Karnataka||23rd November 2014||Hindu extremists attacked the Calvary Apostolic Church in Bangarapet, Karnataka. They beat up Church members resulting in eight church members seriously injured. Two members among the eight injured suffered broken legs.|
|6||Jagdalpur, Chhattisgarh||26th November 2014||Media reports carried the news that under pressure from the VHP, the Catholic missionaries in Bastar area of Chhattisgarh state have agreed that the principals in their schools, normally referred to as “Father”, would now be addressed as “Pracharya”, or “Up-pracharya”, or “Sir”. The reports also mentioned that the missionaries have also agreed to put up photographs of “Maa Saraswati” and “great personalities who have worked for national interest” in their educational institutions. Local Catholic sources have denied such an agreement and complained of pressure from the VHP.|
|7||Assam||26th November 2014||Pastor of the Believers Church in Moran Amguri, Sivasagar District of Assam received threats from local Hindu leaders to vacate the building that the congregation uses for Church services in one months time or face the consequences.|
|8||Delhi||1st December 2014||A Catholic church in East Delhi’s Dilshad Garden area, St Sebastian’s Church, was completely gutted in a fire, in the early hours of 1st December 2014. Later, Christians took to the streets to protest the burning, and demanded a judicial enquiry as foul play is suspected. The Governor of Delhi has instituted a Special Investigation Team to probe into the matter.|
|9||Delhi||2nd December 2014||Four unidentified men broke into the Catholic convent in Rohini area of Delhi. The CCTV captured the images when the break in happened.|
|10||Delhi||6th December 2014||Unidentified people pelted Our Lady of Fatema Church with stones during mass at about 6 p.m in the Jasola area of New Delhi, damaging windows and causing the Syro-Malabar Catholic congregation to rush out in alarm.|
|11||Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh||9th December 2014||The RSS and the Dharma Jagran Manch announced that they planned to convert 4000 Christian and 1000 Muslim families in Aligarh on Christmas Day. BJP MP Yogi Adityanath supported the event visibly among others. The organizers said that Christmas was chosen as the day for conversion because the event is a “shakti pariksha” (test of strength) for both religions.|
|12||Ludhiana, Punjab||11th December 2014||Members of the Shiv Sena attacked the Kalvari Church, Ludhiana prompting the police to deploy heavy security to protect the Church building. Shiv Sena members later surrounded the local police station alleging forced conversion.|
|13||Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh||12th December 2014||Newspapers reported that the Dharam Jagran Samiti (DJS), an RSS offshoot, distributed pamphlets in Aligarh seeking donations for converting Christians and Muslims to Hinduism. The pamphlet said that it costs Rs 2 lakh to convert a Christian and Rs 5 lakh to convert a Muslim. The DJS had set December 25 as the date for a major conversion ceremony and put down an annual target of 2 lakh conversions — 1 lakh Muslims and 1 lakh Christians in the area.|
|14||Ratlam, Madhya Pradesh||12th December 2014||Members of the Bajrang Dal stormed a Christian meeting in Ratlam, Madhya Pradesh along with the media and the police forcing the organizers to cancel the meeting. The organizers and the speakers of the meeting were taken to the police station but were later released. CSP P S Ranawat told the media that no evidence about the alleged conversions, forced or otherwise, was found in the initial probe by the police.|
|15||Bastar, Chhattisgarh||13th December 2014||NDTV and other national media organizations reported that the BJP Lok Sabha MP from Bastar, Dinesh Kashyap presided over a ceremony that saw 33 Christian families being converted to Hinduism. The local Christians had complained of pressure from VHP and BJP earlier asking them to convert to Hinduism.|
|16||Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh||13th December 2014||Christians were attacked and beaten by Hindu extremists for singing Christmas carols in Hyderabad, seriously injuring a pastor and four others. The violence occurred while Pastor Bhim Nayak of Banjara Baptist Church and fifteen church members sang Christmas carols and visited Christian families in the city’s Singareny Colony. Local reports say that some thirty “Hindu extremists” attacked the Christians and a vehicle they had hired for the evening festivities.|
|17||Pipraich, Uttar Pradesh||16th December 2014||16 Christians including 4 women were arrested from a Christmas function at Navipur village, Pipraich, Uttar Pradesh and were kept in custody for more than 20 hours before being released. They were accused by Hindu groups of indulging in forced conversion but the police let them go after a detailed investigation.|
|18||Behraich, Uttar Pradesh||16th December 2014||Pastor Mahendra Kumar from Behraich, Uttar Pradesh was arrested and kept in custody for two days before being released without any charges. He was arrested following complaints of local Hindu groups. The Hindu groups are also targeting a Christian social service organization working in the area, according to local reports.|
|19||Bhagalpur, Bihar||18th December 2014||Three Christians who had recently converted to Christianity were forced to re-convert to Hinduism. According to media reports the three converts returned to the Hindu fold after they were threatened with a social boycott.|
|20||Uttar Pradesh||18th December 2014||Dharm Jagran Manch leader Rajeshwar Singh told media that his organization plans to root out Christianity and Islam from India by December 31, 2021, adding that Christians and Muslims essentially have no right to live in the country.|
|21||Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh||19th December 2014||Hindu extremists disrupted a Christian prayer meeting and beat up Christians in Varanasi on December 19, 2014. Pastor Shobhnath and local Christians were participating in prayer and fasting in a village in Chiraigaon Block, Varanasi, when 10-12 people came in a Bolero (SUV), entered the house forcefully, and started beating the Christians. They took away Bible and other literature and also destroyed household furniture. According to local sources the attackers are office bearers of RSS and BJP. The matter was reported to the local police.|
|22||Valsad, Gujarat||19th December 2014||According to media reports, Vishwa Hindu Parishad “officially brought back to the Hindu fold” some 100 Christian tribals who had “embraced Hinduism earlier” in south Gujarat. VHP activists later claimed as many as 900 had been “reconverted”. The ghar wapsi’ ceremony was conducted this afternoon at Arnai, a village in Kaprada taluka of Valsad district. A news website called scroll.in later investigated the issue and did not find a single convert in the area, a far cry from what was claimed by the VHP.|
|23||Ratlam, Madhya Pradesh||19th December 2014||A week after insisting that there was no evidence of conversion, forced or otherwise, the Ratlam Police booked Pastor Jose Mathews, the organiser of a Christian convention under the state’s anti-conversion law. The convention organised by the Indian Pentecostal Church of God and the United Christian Council (UCC) on December 12, at Ratlam was attended by Christians and was stormed by Bajrang Dal people alleging conversions.|
|24||Chhattisgarh||20th December 2014||Media reports said that the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) is getting ready to clear the controversial anti-conversion Bill passed by the Chhattisgarh Assembly in 2006. The Dharma Swatantraya Adhiniyam Act, 2006, brought by BJP’s Raman Singh government in the state says the return of a person to his ancestor’s religion or own original religion shall not be construed as “conversion.” The Bill also says that a district magistrate will have to be intimated 30 days prior to the conversion and he will be the final authority on the subject.|
|25||Punjab||21st December 2014||In media reports, the RSS and its affiliates claimed that they are engaged in a massive reconversion or “ghar wapsi” programme to get Christians back — not just to Hinduism, but also to Sikhism, in Punjab. They organizations claim to have helped some 8,000 people return home’ in the last three years, some 3,500 of them over the last one year.|
|26||Delhi||21st December 2014||RSS announced that it will organize a reconversion rally at Ramlila Maidan in New Delhi on Christmas day with at least 25000 people in attendance.|
|27||Khargone, Madhya Pradesh||24th December 2014||A Christian couple, Wilson and Rashmita was, taken into custody under the state’s anti-conversion law from a village near district headquarters Khargone, Madhya Pradesh. The couple were a part of a Christmas program held on 24th December at Nayanagar, about 28 kilometres from Khargone, where they live. Members of a Hindu group who alleged conversions disrupted the Christmas program and called the police who then arrested the couple. According to local sources, the Hindu groups produced false witnesses against the couple alleging that they had offered 5000 Rupees every month to a woman if she converts to Christianity.|
|28||Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh|