India : Hindutva and persecution advance unchallenged
Hindu elites in the Sangh Parivar (Hindu nationalist forces) are striving to attain Hindu power in a Hindu State, primarily to perpetuate their own caste privilege. The strategy of the Sangh Parivar is to convert the indigenous, traditionally animist, Congress-voting tribals to Hinduism, and through a fear campaign bring Hindus together in the Hindutva (Hindu nationalist) camp. The fear campaign revolves around demonising and incitement against Christianity which is portrayed as an existential threat to national security, sovereignty and social cohesion. Hindutva is presented as the only solution to this. The Hinduised tribals are then used as ‘vote-cattle’ for the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party. They are also recruited into militias to be pitted against Christians, thus setting the tribals communities against one another. (The Hindu caste system is essentially institutionalised racism. Most high-caste Aryan Hindus would happily be rid of all tribals, except that they have value as vote-cattle, militants and menial labourers.)
To advance their strategy, the Sangh has invented the ‘social kumbh’: a non-traditional Hindu ‘kumbh’ (pilgrimage and festival) based on newly invented, purpose-built mythology. A social kumbh essentially provides Hindutva forces with a religious platform for launching a political campaign. Vitriolic incitement to violence against Christians is an integral element of the social kumbh.
The Sangh is presently organising a social kumbh for 10-12 Feb 2011. It will be held on the banks of the Narmada River in Madhya Pradesh. Some 2 million Hindu devotees are expected to pour into the predominantly tribal district for the Maa Narmada Samajik Kumbh (Mother Narmada Social Kumbh). There they will hear toxic incitement against Christians, witness mass conversions of tribals and be recruited to the Hindutva cause. Hindu leaders attending a ground-breaking ceremony at the kumbh site on 22 April pledged to ‘cleanse Mandla of Christians’ (Compass Direct News, 20 May). Ten days later a mob of around 40 armed, abusive and belligerent Hindu militants stormed worship in the home of local pastor Bhag Chand Rujhiya (36). The police arrived and took Pastor Rujhiya away to be interrogated, harassed and intimidated. He was released after being forced to sign papers promising that he would cease evangelisation in the area and would no longer lead worship or prayers. After living in hiding for a week, Pastor Rujhiya returned with his wife and children, ‘ready to face whatever comes our way’.
In neighbouring Chhattisgarh four young men belonging to the Bhilai Brethren Assembly were distributing gospel tracts door-to-door on 15 April when they were mobbed and beaten. Hindu militants had mobilised a large mob against the young evangelists, even bringing media along to report the attack. When Pastor Shalu Ninan rushed to their aid, he too was beaten. When the Christians went to the police station to file a report, they were charged with ‘forcible conversions’ and arrested under Chhattisgarh’s Freedom of Religion Act. After seven days in Durg Jail (where they continued to witness for Christ) they were bailed.
On 17 April Hindu militants invaded a Christian revival meeting in Betul district of Madhya Pradesh. Theology student Amit Gilbert (23) was killed and his body dumped down a well. On 2 May Indian evangelist Ravi Murmu (28, married with one daughter) was hacked to death as he walked home after showing a gospel film in Laxmanpur in the northern state of Bihar. Incidents of intolerance and violence against Christians occur almost daily. As violence is rewarded with impunity, Hindutva advances unchallenged, with persecution escalating and intensifying across the whole of India.
WE PRAY SPECIFICALLY THAT GOD WILL:
* bless the courageous work being done by India’s missionaries, awakening the conscience and the spirit of many Indians — tribals, who are liberated by the gospel; and Hindus, who are humbled by it.
* shake India’s government and the secular, educated elite out of their nonchalance regarding Hindutva; may they awake to the danger, rise in defence of peace, equity and justice, and insist on an end to incitement and impunity.
* frustrate the wicked schemes of those planning the Mandla kumbh (Psalm 146:8,9).
‘The nations roar like the roaring of many waters, but he will rebuke them, and they will flee far away, chased like chaff on the mountains before the wind and whirling dust before the storm.’ (Isaiah 17:13 ESV)
INDIA: HINDUTVA AND PERSECUTION ADVANCE UNCHALLENGED
Hindutva (Hindu nationalism) is a movement run by Hindu elites, seeking Hindu power in a Hindu State, primarily to safeguard their own caste privilege. Their strategy is to convert the traditionally animist tribals to Hinduism and then through a fear campaign to bring all Hindus together in the Hindutva camp. That way they aim to get a voting majority for the Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party. The fear campaign revolves around demonising and incitement against Christians and Christianity, that are portrayed as an existential threat to Indian sovereignty, national security and social cohesion. Hindutva ideology continues to advance unchallenged and Hindutva violence continues to be rewarded with impunity. As a result, persecution of Christians is escalating and intensifying all across India. Please pray for India and for her suffering Church.