attempting to take over church lands and other properties. In published remarks, church leaders said the administration of the state’s Jashpur district has filed 271 property complaints against their institutions.
Local Christians claim the state government, ruled by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), is misusing a state land law to target Christian workers in the Jashpur
Hindu militants have been targeting Catholic churches, educational institutions, hospitals and social work centers that help tribal people, amid complaints they are "reconverting tribal" people.
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh and other groups have denied the allegations, saying tribals are free to choice whether to follow Christ.
Last month, about 90,000 tribal Christians reportedly marched through the streets of Jashpur to protest the government’s attempt to acquire church land. The latest troubles came amid growing tensions elsewhere in in the state.
Last week a young man who attacked five Christians with dozens of other militants in December 2005, reportedly beat the wife of one of the victims this week in the capital Raipur.
Jogi Sahu, a 19-year-old man allegedly associated with the local Hindu extremist group Dharma Sena, beat Kanti Sharma, the wife of pastor Kanhaiya Lal Sharma, on Monday 19, said Compass Direct News agency
Local Christians reportedly said the attack was "a mere pretext to vent opposition to Christian meetings in the pastor’s house." This was not an isolated incident in
Last week, on February 20, a local politician from the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party led an attack on three pastors in Bhidimoda village.
The three slightly injured pastors, Elisha Baker, Balbir Kher and Nan Sai of the Believers’ Church, were attending a three-day Christian meeting in the house of a local believer when the attack took place, Indian Christians said.
There has also been concern about reports of renewed violence against Christians in other states, including in Orissa where suspected Hindu militants of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) group on February 22 allegedly vandalized a church building.
The building of the Mission India group was reportedly under construction in Niladeri Bihar slum area in the suburbs of Bhubaneswar, capital of Orissa.
Tensions are also rising in the state of Karnataka where Hindu militants from the Bajrang Dal have accused a Christian worker in Kargil village of being a Sri Lankan terrorist. On February 22 police summoned three Christian friends of the Christian worker, identified as M. Devraj, in connection with the case, said Sajan K. George, national president of advocacy group Global Council of Indian Christians.
Christians have also experienced difficulties in the state of Tamil Nadu where Hindu militants reportedly destroyed the nearly-completed St. Mary’s Shrine in of the Kottar Diocese in Kanyakumari district on February 17. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) group had been angered by "the reconstruction of this tsunami damaged Shrine, and have destroyed it,” Compass Direct News quoted a local Christian as saying on condition of anonymity. No arrests have been made.
Human rights groups have linked the violence to continues anger among Hindu groups about the spread of Christianity in India, a predominantly Hindu nation of about 1.1 billion people.