An anti-Christian rally was held last week in the Bastar District of Chhattisgarh state in India, protesting against people of faith by Hindu nationalist leaders.
At this rally, leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) perpetuated false narratives against Christians and advocated for acts of violence against the Christian community. The anti-Christian rally was held in Jagdalpur, the district capital. While the event was highly promoted and attended by prominent leaders of the BJP, less than 500 people attended the rally.
Amit Sahu, President of the Chhattisgarh BJP is quoted as saying: “Let us drag people from the church and stop conversions at any cost.” Sahu also challenged those gathered at the rally to make the Bastar District a “conversion free zone.”
Another leader of the BJP was also quoted as saying: “We will frighten Christians who are involved in conversion work in the region. We will not allow the missionary work to be carried on in Bastar and will protect the Hindu religion by stopping the conversions.” Many Christians in Chhattisgarh are concerned that the rally will trigger another wave of Christian persecution.
The Evangelical Federation of India’s Religious Liberty Commission and other Christian agencies, including a national helpline co-founded by the ecumenical United Christian Forum five years ago, has recorded the murders of at least five people. Six churches were burned or demolished, while in 26 cases Christian communities faced social exclusion.
The deafening silence of the media, and the inability of activists to investigate cases in distant villages because of lockdowns and restrictions on transport, have severely constrained more accurate data collection of targeted hate and violence but it is believed the number are much higher.
At the center of this persecution is a controversial law that has been adopted by about 10 of India’s states is the anti-conversion law. Last year a Pastor from the US state of Tennessee was caught up by the effects law.