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10/26/2018 India (International Christian Concern) – Members of the Sarna tribal community, an animist group in India, removed a cross from a church building in Jharkhand state before holding a purification ceremony to covert the building into a community hall. Local Christians claim this is a result of the influence of Hindu radicals on local tribals trying to divide the tribal and Christian communities.

Historically, Christian missions and organizations have led charity efforts into tribal communities across India. Providing healthcare, education, and social development, the historical relationship between India’s tribal communities and Christians grew strong.

In an effort to isolate and marginalize Christians, Hindu radicals in Jharkhand have stoked the flames of Sarna nationalism. Due to this influence, many members of the Sarna tribal community has turned on Christians in Jharkhand.

Catholic Bishop Vincent Barwa of Simdega, told UCAN, that, “This is part of the hidden agenda of the BJP to divide tribal people as Christian and non-Christian ahead of elections.

Bishop Barwa further explained that the takeover of the church serves as a warning for Christians in Jharkhand. The bishop fears that attacks on Christians in Jharkhand by Sarna people will continue to be an issue.

For interviews with William Stark, ICC’s Regional Manager, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: [email protected].