India: terror of the reconversion campaign | CII


Father Rocky Shah – image © ACN

Source: ACN

Christians in central India’s Madhya Pradesh state are living in fear after radical Hindutva activists step up a campaign to retrain indigenous believers.

Speaking to the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), Father Rocky Shah, public relations manager for the Diocese of Jhabua, said: “Our people are afraid as radical Hindu groups pressure native Christians to abandon their faith in Christianity.

In Jhabua District, where indigenous people constitute the majority, Christians make up four percent of the population, but make up less than one percent of the state’s population, which is 71 million.

After the Madhya Pradesh government implemented a strict anti-conversion law in January 2021, more than a dozen Christians, including priests, were jailed and prayer meetings were hampered over the allegation of religious conversion – an accusation that anyone can make without any proof.

Hindutva activists have accused 56 Christian leaders of carrying out illegal religious conversions.

Rev. Paul Muniya, Auxiliary Bishop of Shalom Pentecostal Church in Jhabua, told ACN: “Our pastors are receiving summons, including myself, from the district administration to prove our Christian background.

“I appeared before the official on September 22, now I am summoned again. I will take the opportunity to testify to my faith in front of the official because I have nothing to hide.”

Father Shah, who himself is a native priest, also reported that activists from Hindutva held a retraining seminar at their district headquarters, where the keynote speaker was a retrained tribal member.

According to the priest, the function was apparently intended to encourage the natives who had become Christians to return to animism.

He added: “When we tried to verify the details of the ‘converted Christian’ we found that he was not a native nor was he based in the diocese. He was brought in from there. outside the region to demoralize native Christians. “

Christianity in the diocese, said the priest, “is over a century old and the faithful are second or third generation Christians. But Hindu activists are always after them to retrain. Yet people are strong in their spirit. faith and are unwilling to go anywhere. “

Father Shah said Christians consider taking legal action if harassment and persecution of radical Hindu groups continues.

He added: “Hindu activists are waging campaigns demanding action against priests and pastors who lead Christian communities and they have threatened to demolish our churches on the false accusation that they are built illegally on indigenous peoples’ lands” .

Father Shah concluded: “Our properties, including churches, were built legally with permission from government authorities. Therefore, we have no objection to submitting such details to the authorities if necessary.

CONNECT

Aid to the Church in Need – www.acnuk.org

Key words: India, Reconversion, Father Rocky Shah, ACN, Aid to the Church in Need, Rev. Paul Muniya

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