Candlelight vigil held for persecuted Chhattisgarh Adivasi Christianstext_fields
New Delhi: The Christian Communities of Delhi held a Candle Light Prayer Service for the Adivasi Christians being persecuted for their faith in Chhattisgarh on Sunday, January 8, 2023, at the Sacred Heart Cathedral, New Delhi.
The religious leaders of Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, Bahai and Christianity came together on one platform to pray for the victims of the violence against Adivasi Christians in Chhattisgarh. All the religious leaders in their prayer urged those involved in attacks on Christians to abandon the path of hatred and find a peaceful solution to their problems.
Archbishop Anil Couto of Delhi Catholic Archdiocese remembered those Adivasi Christians who were being persecuted for their faith. Archbishop Anil said that the Christian community believes in forgiveness, and it is a very peaceful community which does not involve itself in any kind of hatred. He further said that God may give the victims sufficient courage to face injustice and be always strong in their belief. Archbishop assured the victims that the whole Christian community was with them and praying earnestly for their safety.
The Candle Light Prayer service saw an unprecedented attendance from all walks of life bearing the cold wave of north India and stood for more than an hour to show their solidarity with the people of Chhattisgarh who are facing persecution due to their faith in Christianity.
The Adivasi Community from National Capital Regions (NCR) could be seen in their traditional dresses during the prayer service to express their full support to those brethren of theirs who are facing baseless charges of forceful conversions.
Swami Goswami Sushil Maharaj from Hinduism, Rabbi Ezekiel from Judaism, Dr Mohammad Salim Engineer, Shri Navaid Hamid and Faizal Khan from Islam, Dr AK Merchant from Bahai, and Venerable Kabir Saxena from Buddhism were the religious leaders who prayed during the Candle Light Prayer Service. Bishop Paul Swaroop from CNI church, Bishop Deepak Tauro, Auxiliary Bishop Delhi, Fr. Vincent D’ Souza Vicar General, Fr Swaminathan were other church dignitaries who participated in the prayer service.
The fact-finding team presented its report during the candlelight prayer service. As per the report, there has been an organised effort to forcibly convert Christian Adivasis to a Hindu way of life which has resulted in an ongoing campaign of violence against Christians in connivance with authorities. The worst affected districts of Narayanpur and Kondagaon in Chhattisgarh have witnessed attacks on Christians and their institutions since December 9 2022, and over 1000 tribal Christians – including pregnant women, children and aged persons – have been ousted from their ancestral homes with extreme prejudice and brutal violence. It is to be noted that not only were they ousted by locals, but they were also assaulted, their places of worship and homes vandalised, their harvest burnt or plundered, and their livestock and all means of living snatched away.
Many of them had to flee to the forests in the bitterly cold winter. Many of them were beaten up ruthlessly and have sustained grievous injuries, even fractures, which need immediate medical attention. The local authorities have proved ineffective in diffusing the situation, and the violence continues.
These displaced Christians have been given three unacceptable choices: One, denounce their faith and they get their homes and lives back; two, remain Christian and face violence and death; three, find another home, as there is no place for Christians or their beliefs in this tribal land.
The situation in the area seems to be going out of control as a Superintendent of Police reportedly received injuries on his head when he tried to mediate peace with them. Two Christian Tribal women were stripped publicly and beaten in front of about a hundred onlookers in a bid to outrage their modesty and force them to give up their Christian faith.
The Christian Community of Delhi, in light of the very volatile situation in the Tribal belts of Chattisgarh, especially in Narayanpur and Kondagaon, appeals to the Government both at the Centre and the State to intervene and take immediate steps to control the situation and restore the faith of the Christian Tribals for the safety and security as they return to their villages.