UCA News

Christians urge Indian govt to protect minorities

Latest wave of violence against indigenous Christians in Chhattisgarh state is a worrying trend, activists say
Tribal Christians in the central Indian state of Jharkhand protest against targeted attacks on fellow Christians in the neighboring state of Chhattisgarh, in the state capital Ranchi on Jan 15

Tribal Christians in the central Indian state of Jharkhand protest against targeted attacks on fellow Christians in the neighboring state of Chhattisgarh, in the state capital Ranchi on Jan 15. (Photo supplied)

Published: January 17, 2023 05:04 AM GMT
Updated: January 17, 2023 05:37 AM GMT

Tribal Christians in the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand have appealed to the federal government to safeguard minority rights in the wake of rising attacks on Christians and vandalism of their properties in neighboring Chhattisgarh state.

The community members from different church denominations took to the streets in the state capital, Ranchi, on Jan 15 in a show of solidarity with their fellow Christians in Chhattisgarh who have been forced to flee their villages amid threats of social boycott and continuing violence.

The protesters turned up in traditional attire and held placards that read “Stop persecution in the name of religion,” “Save Christians from attacks” and “Stop dividing people in the name of religion,” as they marched on the streets in Ranchi.

The march was organized by the Jharkhand Christian Youth Association.

Ratan Tirkey, a former member of the state’s tribal advisory committee, told UCA News that Prime Minister Narendra Modi should immediately intervene in the worsening situation in Chhattisgarh to ensure the culprits are arrested and punished according to law.

"Congress is also implementing the same hysterical agenda of the BJP"

Tirkey said there has been a rise in violence against Christians by Hindu nationalists across the country over the past few years. However, what is surprising is that the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh has been ruled by the Congress Party for the past four years.

“The previous government of the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) also used to target tribal Christians. The so-called secular Congress is also implementing the same hysterical agenda of the BJP,” he said adding that the political rivals had both failed to protect minorities and their right to freedom of religion.  

Auxiliary Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas of Ranchi, who addressed the protesters, said: “Today it is Christians, tomorrow it may be Muslims or the indigenous Sarna religion [followed by tribals], hence we have to be united and fight the communal forces.”

The prelate said no one has the authority “to question our belief, food habits or how we dress” as “these are rights guaranteed to every citizen by our constitution.”

Prabhakar Tirkey, president of the National Christian Federation (NCF), said the Congress government in Chhattisgarh should immediately take steps to stop the targeted violence against tribal Christians in Narayanpur and Kondagaon districts.

The NCF will soon meet state authorities including Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel, he said.

"Local authorities have proved ineffective in diffusing the situation"

The worst affected districts of Narayanpur and Kondagaon in Chhattisgarh have been witnessing attacks on Christians and their institutions since Dec. 9, and over 1,000 tribal Christians — including women, children and the elderly — have been forced to leave their ancestral homes and take shelter in temporary jungle camps or shelter homes in a bitterly cold winter.

Many of the victims have been badly beaten and have major injuries, even fractures, which need medical attention. The local authorities have proved ineffective in diffusing the situation so far.

Activists who visited the affected area say the displaced tribal Christians have been told to denounce their faith or face violence and death. The only option left could be leaving their ancestral lands as Christians are no more welcome in this tribal heartland of India, they explained.

Help UCA News to be independent
Dear reader,
Lent is the season during which catechumens make their final preparations to be welcomed into the Church.
Each year during Lent, UCA News presents the stories of people who will join the Church in proclaiming that Jesus Christ is their Lord. The stories of how women and men who will be baptized came to believe in Christ are inspirations for all of us as we prepare to celebrate the Church's chief feast.
Help us with your donations to bring such stories of faith that make a difference in the Church and society.
A small contribution of US$5 will support us continue our mission…
William J. Grimm
UCA News
Asian Bishops
Latest News
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia