Tribal animists forced more than 50 Christians from three villages to flee their homes and take shelter in the jungles of eastern India last month.
The Christians belong to 13 tribal families of Rayagada District, Odisha state who have been stranded in the jungle without proper shelter, food, water and electricity.
“It is the rainy season now, and we fear the sickness that comes with rainfall, the poisonous insects and the unhygienic conditions we are living in,” Nori Kanjaka of Sikarpai village told Morning Star News.
Five Christian families fled Kotlanga village on June 7 after receiving threats. They took the threats seriously as villagers who practice traditional religion in Sikarpai, 20 miles away, on May 23 had destroyed the roofs of the homes of six Christian families, looted their belongings and beat them, driving them into the jungle, victims said.
The villagers in Kotlanga had threatened to assault the five Christian families and prevented them from building their roofs. Opposition was so fierce, according to sources, that the Christians had to flee to the jungle to avoid attack on the night of June 7 and joined the Sikarpai Christians who were already sheltering in there.
Tribal animists in other area villages are driving out Christians, Kanjaka said.
“After the villagers in the other villages heard of how we were chased from our village, they too have forced Christians living among them to leave the village, either by threats or by physically attacking them or by illtreating them,” Kanjaka told Morning Star News from the jungle.
Two families from Chichinga village were also forced to take shelter in the jungle. There are now 57 men, women and children there living in shelters of used polyethene sheets and wood, Kanjaka said.