Seven Christian families in India’s Jharkhand state have been ousted from their village because of their Christian faith and told that their tribal certificates would be annulled.
According to a report from Barnabas Fund, a tribal certificate grants members of a Scheduled Tribe certain benefits, such as school fee reductions or waivers, quotas in educational institutions, and extended upper age limits in applying for some jobs. Without the certificate, they are unable to access these privileges.
However, in August, villagers in Sagarkatta, Chaibasa, were told that they were not to allow Christian families to use water from the village well, graze their animals on village pastures, or use the village pond. In September, they were then told that the property of the seven families was to be destroyed or seized.
According to the Evangelical Fellowship of India, similar threats have been made towards 31 Christian families in nearby Bichaburu village.
The Barnabas Fund report said, ‘In a very similar incident in Lupungi Masasai, Jagnathpur, Chaibasa, also in Jharkhand state, four tribal Christian families were summoned to a village meeting on 23 August.
‘The believers were ordered to renounce their Christian faith, or they would be expelled from the village and their tribal certificates would be cancelled. Villagers were ordered not to allow Christian families to draw water from the village well and not to allow them to graze their livestock on the village meadow’. Although the families reported the threats to the police, no action has been taken to date.
Similar tales have been told in Chhattisgarh state, where Christians living in Dhanora village were beaten by a mob of approximately 500 villagers in August, after they too refused to renounce their faith.
They were summoned to a community meeting and accused of spreading the Christian faith. The villagers threatened the Christians that they would be forced to leave the village and would not be allowed to harvest their crops if they did not renounce their faith.