Santas Assaulted by Hindu Nationalists at Indian Carnival

Hindu Nationalists beat up a group of Santa Clauses in India. The country now faces an upsurge in targeted attacks on Christians.

On December 23, a group of Santas was allegedly attacked by Hindu nationalists at Kankaria Carnival 2022.

According to the reports, members of an Indian Hindi nationalist militant organization called Bajrang Dal beat up a group of people dressed as Santa Claus. The group handed out Christian books and free chocolate to the visitors of a zoo in the western city of Ahmedabad. The video of the incident where two men wearing the costume of St. Nick get beaten up went viral on social media platforms.

Javalit Mehta, the president of North Gujarat Bajrang Dal, said, "When we went there to protest against the people who were doing religious conversion activity, there was a clash with some of them."

Kankaria Carnival is a seven-day festival organized by the local government in Gujrat. It celebrates Christmas Day as "Good Governance Day" to honor the birthday of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

After thrashing the group in Santa outfits, the right-wing Bajrang Dal members accused them of religious conversions and told them to "go back" to their churches.

A spokesperson for the Vishva Hindu Parishad, another right-wing nationalist organization, said, "For the past four days of the Kankaria Carnival, missionaries have been promoting Christianity by selling books dressed as Santa Claus near the entry of the zoo and promoting conversion activities by explaining about Jesus and Christianity."

India faces increased targeted attacks on Christians, churches, and missionaries over allegations of coerced conversions, as similar incidents have happened during the festive season across the country.

On 27th December 2022, Tuesday, the St Mary's church in Karnataka's Mysuru city was vandalized, and a baby Jesus statue was damaged. However, the police hypothesized that the act was not an attack on the religion or the church as the money from the church's donation box was stolen, and other Jesus statues were left intact.

While in Uttar Pradesh, a police complaint was filed by a right-wing activist against a Christian pastor. It was alleged that the pastor was alluring a crowd of around 100 people to "convert to Christianity" on Christmas Eve.

In Uttarakhand, a similar incident occurred before when a Christian program was attacked for allegedly converting people to Christianity by a group of men.

Amid attacks upon the community, 100 or more Tribal Christians in Chhattisgarh state had to take shelter in a stadium.

In Narayanpur and Kondagaon districts of the state, where several attacks on Tribal Christians took place, there was an "organized campaign" which forced them to convert to Hinduism, according to a group of civil society members.

"Many Christian Adivasis (tribals) were gravely assaulted and beaten with lathis (sticks), tires, and rods. At least two dozen people had to be hospitalized with injuries like fracture of the collar bone," the group said.

Brijendra Tiwari, a convener of the All India People's Forum, Chhattisgarh, said that over 1000 Christian tribals were forcibly displaced amid the attacks.

The state authorities denied all the claims about the violence being linked to religious conversions.

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