New Delhi: Over 20 instances of anti-Christian violence have been reported from across various villages in Bastar located in Chhattisgarh’s Narayanpur district, according to the locals.
Enraged locals, close to a thousand people, are currently camping outside District Collectorate in Narayanpur to exert pressure on the authorities to register a first information report (FIR) into the violence.
The locals submitted a memorandum to the district collector along with a complaint, demanding action against those behind the violence. According to locals, the perpetrators of violence were instigated by local political leaders who were influenced by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and other Hindutva organisations.
The document accessed by The Wire records 20 attacks on Sunday, December 18, alone; 21 separate incidents throughout December, barring December 18 violence; 15 in November; and three in the month of October.
According to the complaint, 50 people were beaten up and driven out of their homes in Bastar’s Cherang. In separate instances of violence, Christians were physically attacked in Bhatpal, Modenga, and Gohda. An instance of violent attack and vandalism was also reported from Borwand, the complaint added.
The locals, in their complaint, alleged that those who are practicing Christianity were targeted following incitement to violence by political leaders from various villages. “The leaders of the villages incited others to threaten us, abuse us, and physically assault us by destroying and stealing our crops and produce. There were also calls for a social boycott, accusing Christians of occult activities.”
Those affected by the violent attacks blame it on the provocation from local political leaders. “We have been living in these villages for generations now without any discrimination, peacefully practicing our religion and its rituals. However, there are some leaders who are inciting others to attack us and our community. The name of the Gram Sabhas is being used to attack us within our homes. The women and our children have become targets of lewd comments. Our fundamental rights, our right to live, and our human rights are being taken away from us,” read the complaint.
Speaking to The Wire, Birendra Kap, an activist, currently working on the ground said, “Villagers are injured and people’s bodies have been blackened completely, but they are sitting in front of the district collectorate to pressure the administration to file an FIR and take action against those who have incited and carried out the attacks.”
He pointed out that the pattern of the attacks indicates that is a result of incitement by right-wing organisations such as the RSS.
“The RSS is inciting these people to lead attacks against Christians, stating that no Christian should become part of largely tribal-dominated villages. Thus, they are mobilising public opinion that Christians should leave villages. It was an absolutely coordinated campaign. We realised this when we reached the ground and we were able to calculate 69 such instances and the count could be even more,” said Khora speaking of the attacks.
Locals have named 26 persons in their complaint, and among them are Rupsai Salam, BJP’s Narayanpur district president; Phuldhar Kachnam, president of Benur; Shyamlal Potai, Gram Bhatpal; Bhojaraj Nag Gram Antagarh; among others.
The population in these villages is largely Gond and Muria tribes. Speaking to The Wire, Vikram Kumar (name changed), an activist, who is currently sitting in the demonstration, protesting the violence, said, “This has been going on for a long time. A coordinated campaign was unleashed against Christians. On December 18, more than 20 villages were attacked. Twenty instances of violence have been recorded so far. After that, over the last 24 hours now, we have been sitting and protesting outside the collectorate. Someone’s home has been vandalised, some people have been physically attacked. Leaders affiliated to the RSS and other right-wing groups such as Bajrang Dal have incited these attacks.”
Those injured in the violence are being treated currently at the Narayanpur District Hospital and Kondagaon district hospital. The exact count of those injured is not available yet.
The Wire reached out to Devesh Dhruv, a nodal officer at Narayanpur District Collectorate, about the demonstration outside his office. “There was no protest. We have started the process of initiating legal action against the accused. Things are under control,” he said, adding that the memorandum from protesters has already been accepted.
However, Vikram Kumar clarified that the demonstration outside the collectorate would continue until the administration heed to their complaint and lodges an FIR.