Hindu militants in India are offering various rewards for those willing to destroy the homes of Christians or kill Christian leaders, a human rights group reported.
Incentives such as money, food, foreign liquor, gasoline, among others things are being used to mobilize Hindu extremists against the religious group that makes up only two percent of India’s population.
“People are being offered rewards to kill, and to destroy churches and Christian properties,” a spokesman for the All India Christian Council (AICC) (whose name is withheld for security reasons) told U.K.-based Release International.
“Different tasks have different rewards,” he added.
The “going price” to kill a pastor, for instance, is $250 USD, said Dr. Faiz Rahman, chairman of Good News India (GNI).
Rahman is the head of several orphanages in Orissa State where the anti-Christian campaign began in mid-August and where attacks have been the most violent.
He said he has helped 25 pastors leave a refugee camp, but some 250 church leaders still remain in the government-run shelters.
“All of the pastors are high value targets,” Rahman warned Release International. “We’ve got to get them out of the refugee camps.”
Hindu mobs began to attack Christians in the eastern state of Orissa soon after a Hindu fundamentalist leaders was murdered. Hindu extremists blamed Christians for the swami’s death despite claims by Maoist rebels that they themselves were responsible.
Some 50,000 Christians in Orissa are reportedly displaced, with about 30,000 living in make-shift refugee camps. Thousands of homes, churches, businesses, orphanages and properties of Christians have been burned and destroyed by Hindu mobs, leaving most Christians homeless.
Many Orissa Christians escaped with only the shirt on their back and took no belongings or money with them.
According to AICC, the campaign of terror against Christians has now spread to 14 states, with an estimated death toll of 200.
In addition to using rewards to entice violence, the Bajrang Dal, a well-known youth wing of the Hindu nationalist Vishwa Hindu Parishad organization, is now training women fighters to attack Christians, according to AICC.
“They are meeting in secret and training them to use swords and sticks to fight and destroy,” says an AICC spokesman.
In a letter to the state’s chief minister this past week, Catholic bishops from Orissa charged the Hindu militants of being behind “a calculated and pre-planned master plan to wipe out Christianity” from Kandhamal district, Orissa, and establish a Hindu nation.
The bishops urged the minister to request that the national police remain in Kandhamal until after the parliamentary and assembly elections in Orissa, and for destroyed churches to be rebuilt or repaired by the first week of December in time for Christmas.
India is an officially secular country and the largest democracy in the world. Rights groups have strongly criticized the Indian government for allowing the violence against religious minorities to go on unabated for three months without serious efforts to intervene.
“Thousands of Christians now face the hardship of winter in camps for the displaced. Relief aid is needed now, and India must take urgent action to contain the violence, which has spread to other states,” said Andy Dipper, head of Release International. “The authorities must safeguard the lives and homes of Christians under threat from ultra-nationalist Hindus.”