07/17/2014, 00.00
INDIA

Chhattisgarh, Christians targeted by Hindu radicals: Out by August or pay dearly

Nirmala Carvalho
The threat comes from the militants of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), a radical Hindu organization close to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). It is the latest attack on a Christian community in the district of Bastar, a tribal majority.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - "Out of your villages by August 1, or suffer the consequences": This is the threat delivered by the militants of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), a radical Hindu organization, to the Christian communities of Gaiya and Parapur in the district Bastar, the Indian state of Chhattisgarh. Sajan K. George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), who has appealed to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and the National Commission for Minorities (NCM), "to defend and preserve the religious freedom of Christians in Chhattisgarh".

This intimidation is just the latest in a series of attacks in Chhattisgarh by ultra-nationalist Hindu groups against minority communities. And the Bastar district, a rural area in tribal majority state, is the scene of the worst discrimination.

On 6 July, the council (gram sabha) of the village of Belar banned religious activities that do not belong to the Hindu tradition. On June 26, the gram sabha of more than 35 villages banned entry to people who are not Hindus, to prevent them from "damaging the culture and religion of the community. On June 16, in another district of Chhattisgarh a group of Christian families was targeted and beaten by Hindu fundamentalists.

"In addition to prohibiting non- Hindu prayers and religious activities - Sajan George told AsiaNews - there seems to be a social boycott of Christian villagers, some of whom have also been denied basic amenities including rations. The Chhattisgarh government must act to protect the constitutional rights of the Christian minority."

The VHP is part of the Sangh Parivar umbrella of Hindu fundamentalist organizations responsible for violence and attacks against ethnic and religious minorities in India. The political arm of these associations is the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Hindu ultra-nationalist party currently in government - with Narendra Modi as Prime Minister.

 

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