A three-day open-air meeting with permission from the authorities was disrupted at the end of its first day by a group of Hindu extremists in Shakti, Janjgir-Champa in the Indian state of Chhattisgarh.
The response of the police angered the Christian community. “This was a great loss of resources, time, efforts and finances in the entire event,” said an organiser.
About 300 Christians attended the first day of the meeting (3-5 April 2017) which was organised in collaboration with many Christian leaders and churches of the Janjgir-Champa area.
Ramdin Tandan, 53, one of the organiser and an eye witness to subsequent events expressed his grief over the disruption and the response of the police in an interview with Global Christian News.
“Around 40 Hindu extremists belonging to the Dharam Sena and other Hindu extremists groups disrupted the meeting at 9 in the evening. They had called for the police, who on arrival asked the Christians to suspend their program and report to the police station the next morning,” said Tandan.
The extremists alleged that the Christians were carrying out ‘conversion activity’ claimed that ‘20 Lakh INR (2 Million Indian Rupees) had been received by the Christians from foreign countries to do this activity’ said Tandan.
Tandan said that the organisers had received prior permission from the district authorities by submitting a written request at the office of the Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM).
“We were informed that a copy of approval would be sent to the concerned police station directly informing them about the program.
“Around 40 of us reached the Shakti police station next morning and we were told by the policeman in-charge that he is helpless and can do nothing about this. If we proceed with the program, we will be doing it at our own risk,” said Tandan.
The policeman told the Christians to state in writing they were willingly terminating the program to avoid communal riots.
Tandan told Global Christian News that he overheard the police officer saying, ‘No conversion activity was taking place in the meeting but due to pressure from the authorities I cannot support the event or extend police protection’.
“We spent about one hundred thousand Rupees on stage, sound system, sitting arrangement, food and other arrangements. We had made stay arrangements for 100 out-stationed people who had confirmed their participation by renting a huge place for them.
“This was a great loss of resources, time, efforts and finances in the entire event,” said Tandan.
The Christian community of the area is very disheartened by the response of the police over the entire episode.
The Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party has ruled Chhattisgarh state since 2003. The population of the state is 94.7
percent Hindu and 1.9 percent Christian.
In the annual list published by Open Doors International of the top 50 counties where it’s most difficult to live as a Christian, India – the world’s largest democracy has risen to No. 15 from its previous position of No. 21.