India: pre-election threats to freedom of religion or belief

John Dayal of the All India Christian Council (AICC) reported on 22 August that, despite concerted advocacy, there has been no response from either the state or federal government to concerns expressed that on the advice of Hindu nationalist¬†(Hindutva) agitators from the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP), more than 50 villages in Chhattisgarh’s Bastar region had used Section 129 (G) of the Chhattisgarh Panchayat Raj Act to ban all non-Hindu religious practice.

This denial of religious liberty has resulted in a sharp rise in persecution, with Christians being assaulted, denied access to food rations and water, and even driven from their villages.  Furthermore, Dayal says the threat of purging Christians from villages has spread from Chhattisgarh to Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. If impunity persists, then so will this trend.

Further to this, Hindu nationalists are ramping up their conversion or ‘ghar wapsi’ (homecoming) campaigns, especially in Uttar Pradesh ahead of by-elections to be held on 13 September.