Tribal Christians in east India maligned for ‘land-grabbing,’ ‘illegal religious conversions’

Monday, September 9, 2019

by Jordan Hilger, Worthy News Correspondent

(Worthy News) - Christians in eastern India marched in protest last month against what leaders are calling retaliatory government harassment for their attempt to protect tribal lands.

On August 31st, 500 Christian young people gathered in Ranchi city, the capital of India’s Jharkhand state where the mostly tribal Christian population is double the size of the national average, to oppose witch hunts into Christian organizations leaders say have been ongoing since 2018.

“We are facing an unprecedented situation,” said Abin Lakra of the Jharkhand Christian Youth Association, according to International Christian Concern. “We have every right to follow any religion of our choice and live in our own land.”

According to ICC, 88 Christian organizations have been under investigation since July 2018, a month after protests by indigenous people forced the government to retract a land amendment that would have allowed it to appropriate their property for commercial use.

Following an announcement by state minister Raghubar Das in July that Jharkhand would begin investigating whether churches had broken laws regarding tribal lands, local Christian leader Prabhakar Tirkey said tribal Christians are now accused of “illegal religious conversions and land-grabbing,” even though no Christian had been ever successfully charged with either.

Jharkhand state reelected the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in May simultaneous to the political arm of Hindu nationalism winning another five-year term nationwide.