A Christian human-rights organization is urging people to speak out for hundreds of Christian families that are being banned from practicing their faith in India.
According to International Christian Concern, Hindu radicals have been on the rise, emboldened by the election of a new nationalistic Hindu prime minister last year. ICC spokesman Nate Lance says local government officials have banned any non-Hindu religions in dozens of villages in the Bastar District of Chhattisgarh State in central India.
"Basically what this has resulted in is a lot of violent threats,” Lance explains. “And also [it has resulted in] something that we call social boycott, where ... the local leaders have told non-Hindus in the area that they're not allowed to access clean drinking water - the wells there are off limits for them - and they can't participate in their jobs - most of these folks are day laborers.
"And so you have entire groups – about 300 Christian families in that area – who are basically barred from living their everyday lives and are being pressured through violent threats to convert to Hinduism."
Lance says ICC is urging people to sign a petition on ICC’s website to raise awareness on the issue and, it hopes, send a message to the Indian government to speak out against this persecution.