A year after national parliamentary elections swept the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) out of power, Hindus seeking a Hindu nation, or Hindutva, appear to be consolidating their power on the state level.
In January, militants carrying swords and shouting Hindu slogans raided a tribal Christian village in Maharashtra state, forcibly converting many tribal Christians to Hinduism.
Giriraj Kishore, a senior vice president with the World Hindu Council (VHP), defended such efforts. "It has nothing to do with the BJP," he told CT. "We will continue to bring people back to Hinduism. It is homecoming, not reconversion."
Pran Paricha from Orissa told CT that two members of the Life in Christ Mission were beaten while returning from a prayer meeting. The police arrested them on charges of converting people. They were released on bail.
In the BJP-ruled state of Rajasthan, VHP volunteers armed with sticks, iron rods, and bike chains beat up delegates coming by train from Andhra Pradesh to attend the Emmanuel Mission's annual convention in Kota during February. All 290 delegates were sent home. Fanatics accused the mission of having conversion plans.
M.A. Thomas, Emmanuel Mission's director, denied any intent to convert. He said the Christians were attempting to participate in a graduation ceremony, not an evangelistic outreach. "Some of them are already pastors," Thomas told CT. "None of them came for conversion."
Joseph D'Souza, president of the All India Christian Council, expressed shock. "The fundamentalists are trying to convert Rajasthan into a Hindutva laboratory," he told CT. "We are extremely concerned."
Church leaders recently met Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi and presented him an unofficial white paper ...1