12/03/2021 India (International Christian Concern) – On November 22, eight Christian families from Bansgoam village in India’s Chhattisgarh state were summoned to a village gathering where they were told to recant their faith. When they refused, a social boycott was declared against the Christian families until they left the village or recanted their faith.
According to one of the Christian villagers, the Christian families were summoned to a meeting around 10 a.m. on November 22. Around 100 villagers, including the former village sarpanch, were present at this meeting.
The former sarpanch told the Christians the village gods and goddesses were angry because of the Christians and the practice of their faith. He went on to demand the Christians recant their faith.
When the Christians refused, village leaders, led by Baju Netam and Jagdev Netam, shouted foul language at the Christians and told them they must leave the village. The former sarpanch ordered a social boycott against the Christian families denying them the right to collect water from the village well, the right to walk on the roads, the right to bury their dead, and the right to be paid for labor.
“Following the village meeting, the leaders put a lock on the tub well where the drinking water is drawn from,” Ganesh, a Christian villager, told International Christian Concern (ICC). “The villagers continue to threaten that they will drive us out of the village and kill us. We are holding our lives in our hands and feel very unsafe in the village. No one in the village is even talking to us.”
On November 25, the Christians met with local authorities to request protection from their fellow villagers. The local collector told the Christians to return to Bansgoam and promised to resolve the issue. However, the situation remains dangerous as radical Hindu nationalists continue to harass and threaten the Christians to leave the village or leave their faith.
In recent months, there has been a sharp escalation in religiously motivated violence in Chhattisgarh. Anti-Christian rallies led by radical Hindu nationalists and a circular issued by the Superintendent of Police in the Sukma District ordering an investigation into alleged illegal conversions has encouraged new incidents of violence. In the last month, ICC has documented at least 18 incidents of Christian persecution in Chhattisgarh.
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