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 recording 200 fresh cases of persecution against Christians, who draw radical ire for their evangelism and human-rights stances. Most incidents occurred in states ruled by the BJP and its allies.

Related Elsewhere:

Earlier coverage of persecution in India includes:

Cover Story
India Undaunted | Escalating repression can't seem to dampen the church's growth. (April 28, 2004)
Christians Fear Some Backlash After India Elections | Still, they're heartened by voters' chastening of nationalist Hindus. (June 15, 2004)
India's Historic Elections and the Hand of God | Persecution will continue, but without as much implicit state support, says the president of the All India Christian Council. (May 14, 2004)
Indian Churches Hail the Defeat of Hindu-Nationalist Government | "Vote consciously" campaign urged Christian voters to elect secular political parties. (May 14, 2004)
The Immense Commission | Most postal areas still don't have any Christian workers living in them. (April 28, 2004)
Watch Those Web Postings | What Indians say American Christians should, and shouldn't, do to help. (April 28, 2004)
Blockbuster Evangelism | Millions have been converted after seeing films about Jesus, and Hindu radicals are responding with violence. (Nov. 26, 2003)
Hindu Leaders Crack Down on Conversions | Potential converts must ask permission (Oct. 13, 2003)
Weblog: Bogus Claims of Abuse Leveled Against Martyred Missionary (June 13, 2003)
Power in Punjab | Christians see churches—and opposition—grow among Sikhs. (June 18, 2003)
Fending off Hindutva | Indian Christians blast Nazi-like survey, "draconian" conversion law. (May 16, 2003)
Gujarat Religious Survey Troubles Indian Christians | Government of Indian state says it has been gathering statistics on the minority at the behest of federal officials. (March 14, 2003)
Machete Attack on American Alarms Local Christians | Hindu militants threaten to expel evangelists, stop conversions. (Feb. 18, 2003)
Indian Christians 'Living in Terror,' Rights Groups Report | Accusations against priest lead to intense conversion pressure in Rajasthan. (Nov. 6, 2002)
Indian State Bans Conversion | Christians say Tamil Nadu ordinance threatens relief work. (October 11, 2002)
Hounded, Beaten, Shot | What you can do to help persecuted Christians in India. (June 11, 2002)
The Fiery Rise of Hindu Fundamentalism | After a missionary and his two sons are martyred, Christians in India press for greater religious freedom (March 1, 1999)

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