Christian families return to Indian village as Hindu extremists vow to kick them out

A Christian man takes part in a special prayer service at a church in Kolkata, India, on March 17, 2015.Reuters

Christian families have returned to their village in India's Jharkhand state with help and pledge of protection from the police, but they are still facing threats from tribal people instigated by Hindu extremists who are bent on kicking them out of the village.

Last month, the Hindu extremists organised tribal groups to drive away Christian families from the Kullu village in Chanho Block, Ranchi district, around 30 miles from the state capital, Ranchi, according to a Christian pastor in the area.

"The Christians in the village have been discriminated and threatened for a long time, but the banishment started in the first week of June, when five Christian families were threatened and banished from the village," said pastor Moosa Minj, who was also forced to flee.

"The tribal families that have been banished have been Christians for more than 20 years," he said.

The pastor fled the village on June 10 after he received threats to his life. Villagers threw his belongings out of his house, he said.

"They threatened me with dire consequences as they did with the others," Minj said.

The Christian families managed to return to their village after securing police protection on June 22.

Authorities again intervened when a mob attacked their houses with stones the next day as the villagers showed their determination to drive the Christian families out.

The police initially turned away the affected families when they asked for help on June 13, but they started being helpful after Christian leaders from Delhi intervened with district authorities.

The Hindu villagers, however, are standing their ground.

According to John Dayal of the United Christian Forum, the group called Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and its affiliates have been conducting activities against Christian missionaries in the region since the late 1990s.

"The harassment of the Christian tribals, many of whom have been Christians for generations, is increasing because of the divisive politics in the area being played out by the right-wing forces led by the RSS and its affiliates," Dayal said. "The latest incident of the banishment of the Christian families is proof of this."