By Corey Bailey
July 23, 2012 India (International Christian Concern)-Hindu leaders in a village in Southern India have banned Christians from fishing (their sole source of income), further leading to complaints of discrimination and harassment based on religious beliefs. This only adds to the long list of complaints by Christians in the village of Vanagiri Menavar, who have also reported that in the last two months, members of the Bharathia Janatha Party (BJP) and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) have banned them from gathering for corporate worship and refused their children access to school.
In a community that traditionally shares boats to collectively make a living by fishing, Hindus have denied Christians access to the boats. An ICC source says, “The Christians in this village depend on these boats for fishing. They say that, due to this ban, they face many problems and are unable to earn money to feed their families.”
Mr. KA Jayapal, Minister of Fisheries, along with local authorities, attempted to bring the Hindus and Christians together to reconcile their differences and “avoid clashes.” Jayapal, however said he “failed to convince the [Hindu] extremists to leave the village.”
The night of the attempted reconciliation a mob of Hindus bombarded a Christian prayer meeting, attacking the attendees, beating them and demanding they recant their faith in writing. The Christians refused, saying, “We will not [recant our faith] in writing like that; we will remain faithful to our God until death.” Twenty-two families were affected in this attack, which included the looting of six homes and multiple injuries requiring immediate hospitalization. An ICC source reported that the “twenty-two families fled to the nearest villages and forest in fear, hiding for two days before returning home.”
Last week, when the Christians returned and the injured were discharged from the hospital, village elders conducted another reconciliation meeting in an attempt to bring peace. ICC sources report that “all the Christians and Hindus were present” and that this time everyone present “decided that Hindus will not attack the believers, as everybody has the right to choose their own religion.” The extremists have allowed the Christian children to go to school without interference; their parents, however, are still banned from fishing, causing continued friction in the village.