Chhattisgarh persecution makes Odisha workers nervous

The Hindu Heartland is a loosely-defined region in North and Central India where varieties of Hindi are widely spoken, either as primary or secondary languages. (Map, caption courtesy Wikipedia)

The Hindu Heartland is a loosely-defined region in North and Central India where varieties of Hindi are widely spoken, either as primary or secondary languages.
(Map, caption courtesy Wikipedia)

India (MNN) — Fears are coming true in the Hindu Heartland of India. Local authorities now have the power to make the rules and say “No” to Christians. Recent Chhattisgarh persecution is making Christians in Odisha nervous, according to contacts with India Partners.

“The State Government of Chhattisgarh must act to protect constitutional rights,” stated the Evangelical Fellowship of India in a press release shared with India Partners. “The decisions of a number of village Panchayats in the Bastar region banning the entry of Christian workers could lead to the large scale persecution of the minority community by aggressive groups.

“The government must reverse the decisions of these Panchayats immediately to restore the confidence of the Christian community in Chhattisgarh, which is under considerable stress in recent days. There seems to be well thought-out pattern and sinister design behind these actions.”

A “panchayat” is a local governing body, explains India Partners’ CEO and President, John Sparks. “The state is trying to give some of the local administrative bodies more [authority],” he states.

“Whoever has the power makes the rules, and that is the fear [of Christian workers].”

According to the Evangelical Fellowship of India, more than 50 panchayats have passed laws forbidding “all non-Hindu religious propaganda, prayers, and speeches in the villages.”

“In addition to this, there seems to be a social boycott of Christian villagers, some of whom have also been denied basic amenities including rations,” the group adds in its press release.

“If someone comes and tries to share the Gospel, they’ll get beat up and thrown in prison,” says Sparks.

“If they [local leaders] can do this in a few villages, and no one in the state government or central government takes any action, then it empowers the local people [in other states] to say ‘No Christians’ and throw the Christians out of the village.”

Why Hindu nationalist and current Prime Minister Nahendra Modi might not step in.

Odisha state shares a border with Chhattisgarh.

Odisha state shares a border with Chhattisgarh.

Christian workers in Odisha (formerly Orissa) state have a multitude of ministries that would be directly impacted if this “legal persecution” spread outside Chhattisgarh’s borders. Reaching Hand Society, a ministry helped by India Partners, shares Christ through medical missions in hundreds of tribal villages.

Learn more about their work here.

Please keep this situation in your prayers.

“Pray for peace,” Sparks requests. “Pray for the leaders, that they would allow the Gospel to go forward.”

More stories from India’s Hindu Heartland here.