07/27/2018 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has documented multiple instances of anti-Christian violence in India’s Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh States in the past four weeks. These reports from Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh come on the heels of 15 other anti-Christian incidents documented by ICC in the first two weeks of July.
In Jharkhand, located in northeastern India, ICC documented the institution of social boycotts against local Christians in several villages. In Bamarja village, local Christians were told to recant their Christian faith and stop going to church or face a social boycott during a July 2 village gathering. Pastor Daniel Toppo, a local pastor, was also banned from the village during this gathering. As a result, two Christian families fled the village and are now in hiding, fearing attacks by Hindu radicals.
“I was threatened not to enter into the village and falsely charged with a case under IPC 107,” Pastor Toppo told ICC. “It is a very critical situation. Christians in this region are deeply worried over this development, but we look to God for help.”
Similarly, 10 Christian families were assaulted and socially boycotted after they refused to recant their Christian faith in Kartanga village, located in the Kunti District of Jharkhand, on July 7.
On July 22, Parun Lohara and his family living in Karibuda village, located in the Ranchi District of Jharkhand, were social boycotted after the family resisted similar demands to recant their faith. The social boycott was instituted at a village meeting attended by RSS District President Baleswar Bediya and other Karibuda village leaders.
Social boycotts are used as a social weapon in India to pressure members of minority faiths into converting to Hinduism. Access to water wells, electricity, and other public goods are commonly cut off to individuals being socially boycott. Fines are also imposed on village members caught interacting with those who have been socially boycott.
In Chhattisgarh, located south of Jharkhand, ICC also documented two assaults on Christians in the past two weeks. On July 15, Massih Mandali Church in Rajandra Nagar was attacked by Hindu radicals during a worship service. Tightened police security has been deployed to the church following the attack, but Christians still feel uneasy.“Although we were able to have our worship with the police force present, we are still worried about how things are progressing against us,” Martha Malviya, a member of Massih Mandali Church, told ICC.
Later, on July 19, two pastors were brutally assaulted by radicals in Kartuli village, located in the Damteri District, while returning from a prayer meeting. Pastor Takuram Sahu and Pastor Chitranjan Sahu were attacked by a mob of radicals, beaten, and dragged to a local Hanuman Temple where the radicals forced them to worship and observe other temple rituals. The radicals then brought the pastors to a local police station where they were put in jail for two days.
“The attacks will continue to increase,” a local Christian leader, who wished to remain anonymous, told ICC. “Assembly elections are just around the corner and the ruling party is dependent on polarizing the community on religious lines. The sad thing is that innocent Christians are being victimized for politics.”
William Stark, ICC’s Regional Manager, said, “We here at International Christian Concern are extremely concerned by the continued surge of attacks on Christians in India. Every day, new reports of persecution are being documented. Many Christians fear that this may be the new normal for their community as Hindu radicals have been allowed to attack Christians and other minority communities with impunity. India must take steps to counter the growing wave of intolerance and violence. Until then, the attacks will likely continue to increase in both number and severity.”