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NewsIndia | 19 April 2023
VIDEO: Crowds pledge to boycott Christian businesses in India
Show: true / Country: India / India
Standing in a group, arms outstretched to signify their allegiance, a crowd of people in Central India repeat the leader’s words back to him. They are taking an oath, pledging to not buy from or trade with any businesses owned by non-Hindus—specifically Christians and Muslims.
“Today I take this oath, (crowd repeating), today I take this oath that the non-Hindu, be it Muslim or Christian, any kind of business transaction will not be done.”
This is the situation in Chhattisgarh state where Christians—which make up less than 2% of the state’s population of 29.4 million—have been brutally attacked for their faith in a series of assaults and thousands displaced from their homes since last year.
A day after Easter when a Hindu boy was found murdered by unknown assailants, extremists held a rally against Muslims and Christians where they called for the statewide protest and a complete financial boycott.
Watch the video
The leader goes on to say that all Hindus should have signboards in their shops and businesses, indicating they belong to Hindu owners.
“There is one more request. In our business institutions, the religious sign like Swastik Good Luck sign should be in red and saffron color, and it should be visible, so that when customer comes, they can identify.”
Our local partner Dhruv* comments that boycotts against Christians and Muslims are strategically planned and executed.
“It is dangerous and incites communal tensions in society,” he explains. “Such an oath ceremony adds fuel to already ignited fire of hatred towards Christians.”
In many parts of India, anti-Christian sentiment is already exponentially increasing among those influenced by Hindutva ideology, which says all Indians must be Hindus. This extreme belief and resolve leads to violent mobs attacking Christians, as well as their churches, homes and businesses.
In December 2022 when mobs attacked tribal Christians in Chhattisgarh, thousands ran for their lives. Our partners shared desperate reports, with one even noting that 500 people were “living” in a hall with a single toilet. In early January, the mobs returned, going door-to-door threatening believers to leave their homes and their villages, as well as attacking church buildings.
“These were well-weaponized gangs who had planned these attacks in advance,” says our local partner Roshan Paul.* “Many of them had swords or stones. The Christians in Chhattisgarh were accused of following a foreign religion. The persecutors alleged that the Christians were attacking the traditional way of life of tribal people.”
A ’cynical and toxic ploy’ Roshan explained that the current drive against tribal Christians appears to be a “cynical and toxic ploy” by Hindu extremists to divide the community along religious lines. These Hindu fundamentalists didn’t do well in the region in the last assembly elections, he said, and experts believe these tactics are intended to win them votes by stirring up religious partisanship.
Roshan notes that both the planning of attacks and the attacks themselves were done with police knowledge and impunity. However, video footage of the January attacks does show that some police officers did come to the aid of Christians—they were also attacked and injured by the mob.
“Authorities knew that meetings were being held for fresh attacks, but they did no preventive measures,” he says. “The authorities took no steps to address the issue or ensure security of the Christians. Neither the administration nor the local police have taken any steps to curb or restrain the rallies and meetings of the anti-Christian elements, which are openly mobilizing and instigating locals against Christians and church leaders.”
Dhruv commented that many of the thousands displaced have been unable to return to their homes and farms.
“They are taking shelter in another village, town or churches. Please pray for them.”
Pray for our persecuted family in Chhattisgarh
As this new protest and call for financial boycott indicates, the situation for Christians in Chhattisgarh remains extremely volatile. Many hundreds of Christians are still living in poorly equipped shelters. Those who return to their villages don’t just face violence—they’ve also lost their livelihoods, possessions and homes. And this statewide boycott will likely force even more Christians to leave their homes and communities in search of housing and survival.
As Dhruv asks, let’s pray boldly for our persecuted family.
Pray for peace, safety and security for believers who are living in fear.
Pray that Indian authorities take action to support and protect Christian communities and businesses.
Pray that God would soften and change the hearts of these persecutors.
Pray that this boycott would not succeed and these business owners would find favor with their communities.
Pray that our sisters and brothers would find peace and strength in Scripture, prayer and each other as they walk through this storm.
Pray for provision for church leaders whose livelihood often depends on their congregation’s gifts. Ask God to protect and care for them and their families.
Pray that the global church would wake up to what’s happening to our global family and take action through prayer and support.