Christian villagers in Chhattisgarh, India, have celebrated being able to go home after months of enforced exile.
In September 2020, the group of 16 families had to flee their homes after a series of physical attacks, with local women reporting that a violent mob of 500 turned up at their doors, beating them and tearing their clothes.
Some of the Christian men were forced to undergo brutal conversion ‘ceremonies’ to renounce their Christian faith. The attackers demolished homes, and families had no choice but to flee.
However, following a court victory for the families, secured through allied lawyers of Alliance Defending Freedom India, the villagers were granted the freedom to return to their homes without fear.
Although their houses were destroyed, the local government carried out an urgent reconstruction project to provide every family with a new place to live.
In an unprecedented show of concern for their plight, a temporary police outpost has been installed in the middle of the area to facilitate their return and rehabilitation.
Tehmina Arora, director of ADF India, commented, ‘Nobody should have to choose between their safety and their faith. We’re thankful for the work of our allied lawyers which led to a positive result.’
Arora added, ‘Sadly, many Christians in India will still face severe persecution this season. The violence and mob attacks that drove these families to flee testify to what many Christians and other religious minorities experience in India today.All people should have the right to freely choose and live out their faith.’
ADF India says that, despite this glimmer of hope, Christians remain extremely vulnerable across the country.
More than 200 incidents of violence against Christians were recorded in 2020, with the numbers continuing to rise. There were 225 reports of religiously motivated violence in the first 10 months of 2020, compared with 218 recorded in 2019.
Paul Coleman, executive director of ADF International, said, ‘The international community must take action to prevent such extreme violations of human rights in India.
‘This story gives us hope that justice can be served and peace restored; but the violence that occurred in this case is a much too frequent example of what religious minorities face throughout the country.
‘It can no longer go unnoticed. All people have the right to freely choose and live out their faith without fear of violence.’