Attacks on Christians go unpunished in Indian state
CHHATTISGARH CHRISTIAN FORUM HAS DOCUMENTED MORE THAN 200 ATTACKS ON THE STATE’S MINORITY COMMUNITY IN THE PAST TWO YEARS
August 30, 2021. A Christian leader in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh has accused the state government of inaction after six incidents of Christian attacks were reported within a week.
The latest attack was reported from a remote village in Kabirdham district on Aug. 29. More than 100 Hindu activists beat up a pastor after barging into his house during a prayer service, said Mohit Garg, superintendent of police for the district.
The mob also manhandled Pastor Kawalsingh Paraste’s family members and vandalized the house, damaging scriptures, articles of worship and household items, before fleeing. The incident occurred in Polmi village around 11am when the Sunday prayer service was underway, Garg said.
“It is very unfortunate that we have witnessed repeated attacks on our Christian brothers and sisters last week. But it is nothing new. We have documented more than 200 such incidents in the state during the past two years,” Chhattisgarh Christian Forum president Arun Pannalal told UCA News.
He said what was more unfortunate was that every time the government would try to play down the incidents and push for a compromise between the attackers and their victims. “Few of them will be called to the police station but no first information report [documenting the initial details of the incident] will be registered,” he said.
Police inaction and the government’s failures had made the Christian faithful in the state insecure and disturbed social harmony, the Christian lay leader alleged.
Meanwhile, police said the pastor was accused of being involved in religious conversion activities by his attackers who also raised slogans against him.
Pannalal told media that members of all Christian denominations in the state had met recently in Bilaspur town where they discussed ways to defend their community leaders and places of worship against similar attacks.
“We will approach the Supreme Court for justice with all the required evidence,” he said.
Chhattisgarh has in place an anti-conversion law enacted during the rule of the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The Chhattisgarh Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Act, 2006, requires anybody wanting to change religion to seek permission from district authorities at least 30 days in advance.
Anybody found guilty of violating the law is liable to be jailed and pay a financial penalty.
Pro-Hindu groups often accuse Christians of converting others to their religion through unfair means, though, according to the 2011 national census report, only 1.92 percent of the state’s 23 million people follow the religion.
Chhattisgarh remains India’s most densely Hindu state with 93.25 percent of its population following Hinduism. Islam, Buddhism, Sikhism, Jainism are the other minority religions.