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India

Christians in eastern Indian state live in 'appalling situation'

Fact finding report says local laws meant for their welfare and protection are used to harass

ucanews.com reporter, Bhopal

ucanews.com reporter, Bhopal

Published: June 13, 2016 10:53 AM GMT

Updated: June 13, 2016 12:21 PM GMT

Christians in eastern Indian state live in 'appalling situation'

Indian Christians hold placards and banners during a protest in New Delhi in this file photo to draw attention to continued anti-Christian violence. (Photo by AFP)

A team of politicians and human rights activists who toured Chhattisgarh has reported several cases of violence against Christians in the eastern Indian state.

"Christians live in an appalling situation in rural areas where local laws meant for their welfare and protection are used to harass and divide the people on the basis of religion," said Kavita Krishnan, secretary of the All India Progressive Women's Association, who was part of the team that included former lawmakers.

After touring Chhattisgarh June 8-11, the team released a report saying how the state government failed to help Christians in villages oppressed by Hindu nationalists. 

Several villages in Baster district for example have against the spirit of the Indian Constitution restricted non-Hindus from residing or building places of worship in those villages, the report said.

Christians are even being prevented from using burial grounds in several villages, it said.

In Sirisguda village, Christians were not allowed to buy grocery from the government'not s public distribution system and were beaten up, the report said. After the attack, the ambulance was not allowed in the village and injured Christians allowed to get treatment in the district hospital.

Christians are also not allowed to use common water sources in villages and district officials insisting that Christians must convert to Hinduism or leave the village. "We have come across innumerable examples of Christians under pressure to change their religion, in gross violation of constitutional provisions," Krishnan told ucanews.com June 13.

"The violence is politically motivated," Bishop Joseph Kollamparampi of Jagadalpur told ucanews.com without naming any group but expressed shock over the series of human rights violations in Bastar region that comes under his diocese.

However, Father Sebastian Poomattam, vicar general of Raipur Archdiocese based in the state capital has blamed the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party that runs the state and federal governments for the increasing violence against Christians and tribal people.

"We are living in an alarming situation here," as Hindu groups push forward their agenda of creating a Hindu-only India, Father Poomattam told ucanews.com. 

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The state, ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party, a Hindu-nationalist party, has become a hotbed of anti-Christian violence with right-wing Hindu groups attacking Christians with impunity.

Christian leaders said police are indifferent to attacks on Christians and that the government tacitly supports violence on religious minorities.

Christians number less than 1 percent of the population in the Hindu-dominated state.

 

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