05/17/2024, 16.55
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A 22-year-old Christian killed in Chhattisgarh is the latest victim in India’s violent elections

by Nirmala Carvalho

In Bastar, tribal converts to Christianity continue to be attacked. Kosa Kawasi was one of them, killed by an uncle and a cousin. This kind of incidents shows the level of discrimination against people who embrace Christianity in rural villages. “Christian tribals live in fear and insecurity even among their own families,” a local told AsiaNews.

Darbha (AsiaNews) – Another episode of deadly violence was reported on 4 May in Bastar Division (Chhattisgarh), scene of regular attacks against tribal converts to Christianity.

Kosa Kawasi, 22, was attacked by a mob in Kapanar, a village near the town of Darbha, dying from stab wounded inflicted by an uncle, Dasru Kawasi, and a cousin, Madiya.

The conversion of the young man and his wife had caused dissention among family members; faced with the couple's firm choice, relatives and neighbours where Kawasi lived tried to drive him out of the village and seize his assets, eventually ending with murder.

His Uncle Dasru Kawasi said that Kosa would get at least some land if returned to his original religion. When the young man refused, a community meeting was organised to solve the dispute, attended by villagers, as well as the two parties.

During the gathering, the confrontation escalated, and, in a fit of rage, Dasru and his son attacked Kosa Kawasi, who died from his injuries before he could reach the hospital. Informed of the incident, police arrested both father and son.

“In recent years, Bastar has seen a drastic increase in attacks on tribal Christians and their property,” a local resident told AsiaNews, on condition of anonymity.

The hostility goes even so far as to deny Christians the right to bury their dead near their village.

“Some have been driven out. Christian tribals live in fear and insecurity even among their own families,” explained the witness. “Kosa Kawai’s paternal uncle wanted to grab the nephew’s rightful property because of his Christian faith.”

Persistent violence against Christians is fuelled by Hindutva groups, inspired by a right-wing ethno-nationalist political ideology that defines India's cultural identity exclusively in terms of Hinduism, with the avowed goal of setting up Hindu nation-state.

These movements have increased their appeal in Bastar, causing and fuelling tensions between Christian and non-Christian tribals. Social and economic boycott is a daily reality for Christians.

During the current general election, Bastar voted in the first phase on 19 April.

In his campaign, the local candidate running for the Indian National Congress appealed to local tribal sentiments, stressing his party’s five guarantees for women, farmers, youth and poor tribals.

For its part, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) also made religious conversions an issue in its campaign.


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