India: Hundreds of Christians fear attack, flee villages
Sunday last, hundreds of Christian Adivasi protestors gathered outside the district collectorate in Narayanpur, Chhattisgarh, to demand that the administration ensure their safety. In a complaint submitted to the police on Monday, they alleged they had been beaten up and forced to leave their villages because of their faith.
Kunao, a 22-year-old man from Bhatpal village, 25 km from Narayanpur district headquarters, said he was summoned to a meeting by fellow villagers on Sunday morning. He said the villagers beat him up and threatened him by saying: “If we see you here tomorrow, we will beat you, demolish your home and throw you out of the village.”
At around 3 pm on Sunday, he and his family hopped on a tractor trolley and fled the village along with five other Christian families. “They targeted us because we are Adivasi people and follow the Christain faith,” the 22-year-old said. “I was told at the meeting that I should stop following Jesus Christ. We were blamed for corrupting the culture and traditions of the village.”
The complaint listed the names of 20 villages where similar incidents allegedly took place on Sunday, December 18. It also mentioned another 39 incidents spread over the past three months. Alleging that these attacks were instigated by local leaders, the complaint said that the attackers “have been entering our homes and beating us up. Women and girls are being subjected to indecent acts. Even children are being beaten up.”
Keshru Saindi, 50, a Christian Adivasi from Borawand village, alleged that his house was attacked and looted on December 18. “They took away my motorbike and a machine after ransacking my house,” he said.
Anand Alkana, a Christain Adivasi activist who is assisting the displaced villagers, said some people were injured and had to be admitted to a government hospital in Narayanpur. “They have injuries in the head and arm and marks of rods on their back,” he said.
Worried about their safety, the Christian Adivasi villagers have asked the administration to take action against the people who are harassing them. “They are seeking police cases against the culprits and would return only after guarantees of safety and security,” Alkana said.