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Hindu nationalist leader urges protestors to behead Christians at rally in India

by Donna Birrell
Swami_Parmatmanand_.jpg - Banner image

The charity Open Doors says that a Hindu nationalist religious leader called for fellow Hindus to behead Christian converts at a mass rally in India's central Chhattisgarh state.  

Swami Parmatmanand, a prominent leader in the Hindutva movement, called for the targeted killings at a protest earlier this month. The protest was organised against an alleged rise in conversions of Hindus to Christianity.  

Speaking to an audience, which included senior leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Swami Parmatmanand said: "Keep a lathi (stick) at home in our villages, people keep hand-axes. Why do they keep axes?    

"Behead them - those who come for conversion.   

"Now you'll say that I am spreading hate although I'm a saint. But it's important to ignite the fire sometimes.   

"I am telling you; anyone who comes into your house, street, neighbourhood, village, don't forgive them."  

The priest continued: "I want to tell those Christians who went away (converted), why did you leave the ocean for the well?   

"I want you to talk to them politely first. Stop, protest, shoot."    

Dr David Landrum, Director of Advocacy for Open Doors UK & Ireland, said: "What we are seeing in India is a co-ordinated campaign against Christians by Hindu nationalists. 

"Violence is being incited by local political and religious leaders who see the public vilification of Christians as an easy way to shore up their Hindu vote bank. Police are complicit and state actors ignore and even condone persecution.   

"This self-perpetuating cycle of violence and intimidation has now become socially acceptable. 

"In a country that claims to be a democracy, these calls to violence against converts to Christianity are outrageous and should alarm us all. The freedom to choose or change what you believe is at the core of religious freedom as a fundamental human right." 

Open Doors says that in the last couple of months, Chhattisgarh has seen large-scale protests against Christians and alleged forced conversions. This is part of a growing trend across India where violence is being meted out to Christians over so-called forced conversions. 

A local Christian told Open Doors: "Christians in Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh are living in fear and under constant pressure from their communities."  

"The way Hindu nationalists spread the message of hatred through these rallies and protests is unbelievable.  

"They are shouting slogans like 'beat these Christians with shoes', 'stop conversion to Christianity, save your country', and 'save your religion'."

India is number ten on Open Doors World Watch List, an annual ranking of the 50 countries where Christians face the most extreme persecution.  

 

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