When India became independent in 1947, Jawaharlal Nehru adopted an official policy allowing tribal areas to develop their own cultural and religious traditions unhindered. But natives of an animist background resented the growing numbers of Christians who put away old tribal customs. And after Nehru died, Hindus in the 1960s began to persecute Christians in obscure Arunachal Pradesh, a province of 25,000 square miles in the extreme northeast corner of India, along the Tibetan-Chinese border (see map).
Robert Riehweh Cunville, a Khasi tribesman presently studying at the Fuller School of World Mission in Pasadena, California, said that the first wave of persecution occurred in 1968 and 1969. Another major series of attacks and harassments in the mountainous territory, where Western missionaries are banned, took place last spring and summer, he said.
The Baptist World Alliance and other sources corroborated reports of widespread looting, burning of homes and churches, and physical assault and torture of Christians. “Highly destructive vigilante attacks” were perpetrated by bands of high school students, the BWA reported. Its information came from workers of the Baptist General Conference, a 111,000-member denomination based in Evanston, Illinois, with mission work in Arunachal Pradesh.
Cunville, ordained a minister by the 400,000-member Presbyterian Church in North East India, produced documents alleging that three Christian churches in Arunachal Pradesh were burned in 1969, six in 1970, and seven in 1971. In addition, his records show, a Christian mission school was forced to move out of the state in 1970, and another was closed a year later.
Rochunga Pudaite, an Indian who formerly lived in northeast India and is now president ...1
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