A Hindu leader was reported in saying "let us drag people from the church' last week in a call for violence against Christians in India.
The Christian Post said Bharatiya Janata Party President Amit Sahu was one of the nationalist leaders in India who took part in a rally that advocated violence against Christians. The rally was held in Chhattisgarh state's Bastar District and attended by almost 500 people.
Sahu challenged the rallyists to turn the region of Bastar into a "conversion free zone," meaning an area where religious conversions are prohibited. Christians in the region were reported to have been put by local police under tighter surveillance weeks earlier due to allegations of converting locals.
"Let us drag people from the church and stop conversions at any cost," Sahu declared.
While another leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party, Roop Singh Mandavi, ordered the crowd to "frighten Christians" and prevent them from conducting "missionary work."
"We will frighten Christians who are involved in conversion work in the region. We will not allow the missionary work to be carried on in Bastar and will protect the Hindu religion by stopping the conversions," Mandavi said.
The International Christian Concern (ICC) revealed that the rally is feared by local Christians in Chhattisgarh to spur a "new wave" of persecution against them. The International Christian Concern cited a local Christian leader who divulged the relief they felt after seeing the rally's poor turnout, as compared to the gigantic gathering they were expecting for it.
"We took a long breath after seeing the poor show in attendance. It was expected that 10,000 to 12,000 people would turn up for the rally. This was very concerning, but less than 500 people attended," the ICC quoted an unnamed Christian leader.
Nonetheless, a Christian pastor pointed out that this will mean that the Hindu nationalists will become "more aggressive" since the rally will nonetheless fuel the persecution against them.
"Though the rally was not successful in terms of numbers, the Hindutva (Hindu nationalists) activists will be more aggressive. It is their plan to do reconversion programs, particularly in the villages and interior places. We won't know about these incidents of persecution because of the remoteness of these areas. Only God can save His people," the Christian pastor said.
"The state is already in tremendous turmoil and Christians and pastors are targeted for what they believe and practice. This rally will add fuel to the fire. We need prayers and someone to stand with us," the pastor stressed.
Last July, the Sukhma Superintendent of Police ordered that Christians in Chhattisgarh and their activities were put under surveillance due to false accusations that of conducting conversions on locals. The superintendent's ordinance actually supports the "Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance" that the national government approved in December and was further strengthened in March by the "Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Bill 2021."
Both laws are meant to prevent conversions into other religions besides Hinduism by the imposition of penalties on those who would be found breaching it. The said laws were enacted despite India's constitution providing citizens "the fundamental right to profess, practice, and propagate the religion of their choice."