The National Council of Churches in India (NCCI) strongly condemns the recent violent attack on Christians in Narayanpur and Kondagaon districts in the Bastar region, Chhattisgarh. This brutal attack has left many women and children vulnerable along with the men, all of whom have been assaulted and chased out of their houses because they chose to follow Christian faith. There are reports of houses and churches demolished in the region.
This human right violation is an assault on the Constitution of India from which the Freedom of Religion and Belief is drawn equally by all citizens
Although such acts are interpreted as isolated attacks, in reality they are orchestrated attempts to malign the Christian community. It is understood to be the continuation of a series of attacks against Christians in Chhattisgarh state in recent years. The increase in violence against Christians all over India especially among the economically weaker sections of the society exposes the persecution meant to cleanse a particular religious community from all spaces.
It is to be noted that the term ‘forced conversion’ has been used as a tool to attack Christians, while at the same time persecution is used to FORCE them to leave Christianity and embrace another religion. Violent mobs are taking law and order in their hands to eliminate Christian minorities while police reportedly remain silent spectators. It is also noted in some cases that in spite of many complaints police are reluctant to file cases.
While acknowledging the precious little arrangements that has been made by the district administration, the overall political apathy towards such incidents is a shame to the country
NCCI urges the state government to take appropriate action against the perpetrators of such heinous acts against Christians who predominantly belong to Adivasi and Dalit communities.
We demand that the State should guarantee and ensure security to life and property of the Christian community under attack; compensation to those injured and for loss of life and property should be announced immediately.
The State Government should take responsibility for the untoward incidents and urgently restore all demolished church and house buildings in their expense.
We demand that the State government take appropriate action on the perpetrators of violence against women and children in the instant context.
The State should ensure a strong and visible presence of security forces in the region to build confidence and enable the Christian community to celebrate Christmas festival with the usual fervour.
The NCCI further urges the State Human Rights Commission and State Minority Commission as well as the National Human Rights Commission, the National Minorities Commission, National Commission for Women and the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights to take suo moto cognisance of the incident and pass appropriate stringent orders binding on the State and all concerned.
In an urgently convened meeting of the leaders and representatives of NCCI Member Churches in Chhattisgarh, decisions were taken to address the situation on the ground including providing humanitarian assistance to the affected families, facilitating visits to the affected villages to provide solidarity and moral support to the affected communities, provide for psycho social counselling for traumatised children and adults, arrange for legal support to the victim communities and to plan short and long term measures to empower the community to face any such unfortunate eventuality in the future.
Rev. Asir Ebenezer
General Secretary NCCI