12/01/2020, 00.00
INDIA
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GCIC president: deep concern over anti-Christian attacks in Chhattisgarh

by Nirmala Carvalho

In recent months, incidents and acts of violence have been escalating in the state in central India. For Sajan K George, “extremist fringe groups” are fuelling “suspicion and enmity” in order "to divide along communal lines amid growing tensions.”

Delhi (AsiaNews) – Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), is deeply concerned about the "growing number" of attacks and incidents involving tribal Christians in Chhattisgarh, a state in central India.

Speaking to AsiaNews, he explains that “Extremist fringe groups are artfully using propaganda to stir up suspicion and enmity" among various groups in villages in order “to divide along communal lines amid local tensions.”

The latest violent incident involving tribal Christians in Chhattisgarh occurred on 25 November, but tensions and acts of violence have been reported for some time.

At least 27 people were injured in an attack in Chinghawaram, a village in Sukma district; in four people injuries were so serious that they required hospital treatment, local sources said

Back on 22 and 23 September, radical right-wing extremists attacked 16 Christian families in Kakrabeda, Singanpur e Tiliyabeda, three village in the Bastar region, destroying their homes because they refused to abandon their faith and convert to Hinduism. T

The attackers, who used wooden sticks and rods to smash thatched roofs and mud walls, also physically assaulted children and women, molesting the latter, forcing them to flee into the forest.

Earlier this year, a mob targeted the homes of two Adivasi Christian families in Kokkar Pal, a village in Sukma district.

In Chhattisgarh, “Christians are falsely accused of proselytising. Ironically, these radical groups attack Christians to convert them to Hinduism,” Sajan K George points out. However, “tribal people are animists, not Hindus.”

The state’s law on religious freedom, essentially an anti-conversion law, “is used to strike at and punish Christians,” who are subject to "pressure to convert" to Hinduism.

“The GCIC is deeply concerned about what is happening in many tribal areas,” where "serious episodes of large-scale anti-Christian violence" have been reported.

All major incidents have occurred in districts with a tribal majority: Dangs in Gujarat (December 1998), Jhabua in Madhya Pradesh (December 2007), and Kandhamal in Odisha (August 2008).

“We hope Chhattisgarh is not next,” George said. “The GCIC is praying that Jesus, the prince of peace, will bring peace and security to Christians, as they worship him and pray to him as Lord and Saviour.”

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