The growing attacks on Christian Adivasis in Chhattisgarh took an ugly turn on December 18 as more than 500 people from 19 villages in Narayanpur and Kondagaon districts have been forcefully evicted from their houses allegedly by Hindu right wing who for the last few months have been reportedly trying to forcefully convert them to Hinduism in the name of Gharwapsi.
The evicted families with their bare minimum resources then gathered outside the Narayanpur collectorate office. Suman Mandavi (name changed on request), one of the residents of Narayanpur district, tells Outlook , “For the whole night we stayed there in the chilling cold. We were not given anything. Next day, we were assured by the SP and the district collectorate that the FIR would be lodged. And we were asked to go to Benur police station. But even there, we stayed up to night and not a single report had been lodged,”
As per the local sources, they were then given a government quarter where basic water and electricity connection were even not available. They left the place and started staying in tents at Narayanpur jungle area. Upon protests, around 300 of them had been given place in the district Indoor stadium but the police have not yet lodged any FIR.
They have already submitted their application to the district collector (DC) and SP, Naryanpur and mentioned that how local BJP leaders for the last three months have made their lives impossible for their belief in Christianity.
The application accessed by Outlook finds that only in December itself 41 incidents of forceful eviction, beating, molestation, snatching food grains and tractors occurred in the district, while in November the number stands at 15.
The application names 26 people including prominent political figures such as Narayanpur BJP district president Rupsai Salam, Benur BJP district president Fuldhar Kachlam, Zila panchayat member Ratan Salam and RSS functionary Mangaru Ram. However no action has been taken yet.
Vikrant Kumar (name changed on request), a social activist who has been working for the cause of Adivasis for long, tells Outlook , “On 18th December at least 2000 people gathered near the collectorate office for protest. But now people are scattered in different places. In Indoor Stadium around 300-400 people are staying, while the rest are staying in different parts. We are not getting any support from the administration. People don't even know what to do and what not.
Beating and evictions of people from different villages are accompanied with accusations of stealing food grains and demolishing churches. Suman Mandavi tells Outlook, “Still now at least 59 incidents happened and except 4 incidents, not a single case has been lodged. On December 18, while 20 villages were attacked, one of the worst sufferers was Chimdi village. At least 25 houses had been demolished, their belongings including food grains and tractors had been taken away. BJP-RSS also attacked the churches and demolished their properties."
“They have taken everything that the people did have. Even after that the police are not going to talk to these attackers. People are extremely scared and don't know what will happen to them in near future," adds Sannau.
However, the incidents are not at all new in this region, it has been going on for more than three months. Sushant Jhali (name changed on request), an advocate who has been legally helping people in this region for quite a long time tells Outlook , “For almost three months the cases have increased severely. They are not even letting people bury the dead. Forcefully they are converting people. On December 18, at Palna village, people came in numbers with drums and nagada and asked the Adivasi Christians to leave their houses.”
“These attacks started vigorously from October. Earlier this year incidents had been reported from Bijapur. But the violence reached its peak in November 30, when two teenage girls had been beaten and molested by these people. This case though comes under POCSO Act, no action has been taken yet. Both the girls filed complaint on December 2 but it went in vain," adds Sushant.
He also says, “During Congress regime, I think we are suffering much than even the BJP rule. Several Congress leaders including local MLAs have been giving provocative statements against the Adivasi Christians and the situation culminated to this.”
The application that has been submitted to the DC also reads that people have been staying here amicably for long until recently when the local leaders started provoking the people against Adivasi Christians.
When contacted Congress MLA of Narayanpur Chandan Kashyap avoided commenting on the issue and said that he "is busy in other works". Outlook contacted the BJP president of Chhattisgarh and MP Arun Sao who also refused to comment.
The situation in Bastar region of Chhattisgarh has turned worse in the last few months and as the activists say, "It is the incapacity of the Congress government that is unable to save the Adivasi Christians from the continuous attacks."