One of India’s parliament members says tribal people known as “Advasis” should be barred from government aid if they convert from their religion.
Dinesh Kashyap from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) made the controversial statement during a recent rally.
“Conversion is a big problem. Those Adivasis, who have converted their religion, shouldn’t be allowed to avail benefits of different government facilities,” Kashyap said.
This comes just a week after 25 preachers were accused of allegedly trying to convert Hindu villagers to Christianity.
The evangelists were sharing the gospel in a remote village in the eastern state of Jharkhand when a crowd of Hindu residents grew angry.
“The villagers became angry when they began making disparaging comments about tribal places of worship — locally called ‘Manjhi Than’ and ‘Jaher Than’ —saying that Satan resided in such places,” a senior police officer with knowledge on the case told local media. “Angry villagers asked them to stop but they did not.”
The preachers were forced to stop and were held against their will by villagers until police came the next morning.
Sixteen of the 25 Christians were arrested and charged with forcibly converting people. The evangelists have denied the charge.
Jharkhand adopted a controversial law in September 2017 with criminalizes those found guilty of forced conversions.
Pastor Joseph D’Souza, who works tirelessly for human rights in India told CBN News earlier this year Hindu extremists are using the charge of “forced conversions” to persecute the country’s Christians.
“The propaganda that continues to go on which is absolutely not correct that Christians are involved in false and forced conversions. Nothing of that sort is happening,” he explained.
“The propaganda that somehow Christians are working against India, against the interests of India by trying to be Christians, is propelling this. And a lack of control of these groups that seem to commit crimes and attack minorities with impunity,” he continued.
The BJP political party is known for promoting Hindu nationalism, and working against those who seek to spread any religion other than Hinduism in the country.
Despite the persecution, D’Souza says the church is growing.
“Persecution has never stopped the growth of the church. In fact, when we are attacked, when we are persecuted, we become stronger,” he said. “They’re standing strong and they’re not recounting.”