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05/14/2019 India (International Christian Concern) – Police in India’s eastern Jharkhand state have intervened in a village conflict that left five Christian families suffering the effects of a social boycott. The boycott was leveled against the Christian families after they refused to “reconvert” to the local Sarna religion by fellow villagers.

The conflict started in on April 10 when village leaders from Tetratola village demanded the five Christian families “reconvert” to the Sarna religion, a local religion characterized by nature worship. When the Christians refused, a social boycott was instituted against them by the entire village.

As part of this social boycott, local villagers were ordered not to socialize with the Christians or they would be fined 1,000 rupees. In addition, the Christian families were ban from receiving government benefits, denied access to the village’s well, and had their agricultural lands seized.

On Monday, May 13, Mohan Pandey, the officer-in-charge at the Chandwa police station, met with village residents in an effort to lift the social boycott. According to Officer Pandey, the villagers agreed to lift much of the social boycott against the Christian families. However, without a constant police presence in the village, it is possible that the social boycott could be reintroduced.

Across India, social boycotts are used to persecute Christians in village settings. In many cases, the social boycotts are used to pressure Christians into renouncing their faith and converting to the majority religion of the village.

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