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Days after the Narayanpur violence, a promise to preserve unity was made.

Monday, days after violence erupted between two clans in the Narayanpur district of Chhattisgarh, district officials met with the leaders of all 68 villages and urged them to address communal concerns without resorting to violence.

The district collector of Narayanpur, Ajeet Vasant, and the superintendent of police, Sadanand Kumar, who presided over the meeting, informed the village leaders that those who break the law will be punished severely and that they must report any suspicious, communal, or violent activity in their village to the police.

The conference was called following two days of violence (1 and 2) in which seven police officers, including the SP, were assaulted.

The hostility between the two communities has resulted in the expulsion of 500 tribal Christians from their villages since November of last year. The district administration reportedly confined 125 of these tribal members in an indoor stadium, while the remainder is supposed to have returned home.

The meeting lasted two hours and was attended by three hundred people, according to a representative of the administration. After the meeting, Vasant told The Indian Express, “We made it clear to the local leaders that progress and development must be our top concern. Violence should not be tolerated.”

When asked when and how the remaining 125 people from four-gramme panchayats would be returned, Vasant responded, “We will first travel to the village and convince the residents to allow these folks to stay.” We shall protect them from any form of violence. We plan to return them within four to five days. Meanwhile, we have arranged for 36 youngsters to be taught by teachers from a government school.”

Another problem tribal Christians suffer is that they are not permitted to bury their dead in the village until they renounce Christianity. At least two remains were transported from many kilometres distant and interred in the city’s communal cemetery. Vasant stated, “If this situation arises in the future, we will act accordingly.”

The leaders also voiced their opinions on the impact of conversion on tribe culture and customs. The collector advised them that such situations must be resolved by negotiation and debate, as resorting to violence tarnishes the village’s reputation and impedes development efforts.

On January 1, a gang of Christian tribals reportedly attacked the majority of tribals in Gorra hamlet. When police officers attempted to intervene, they too were allegedly attacked. In reprisal, around 2,000 tribe members damaged a municipal church. 26 individuals from both communities have been arrested thus far.


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