“We’re Scared,” Says Christian Book Stall At Delhi Fair Day After Threats

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The World Book Fair being held at Pragati Maidan is one the biggest literary events of the year. The guest of honour list includes Annie Ernaux, the 2022 Nobel prize winner in literature.Many visitors at the book fair, however, say the chaos that unfolded yesterday was not befitting of an event of this stature. A group had raised slogans, tore posters and took away books from a stall of a Christian organisation. The reason – the stall was distributing free copies of the Bible.Videos of the incident, which have gone viral on social media, show a group of men shouting slogans outside the stall, demanding to stop the distribution of Bible copies.The stall is run by a Christian organisation, Gideons International, which was founded in 1899.Posters outside the stall said people could get a “Free Holy Bible”. But, that was yesterday. The volunteers have now taken down those posters and hidden any mention of the word “free” on their stall banners.Volunteers at the stall told NDTV they are not forcing anyone to take a copy of the Bible, or trying to convert people.”I have been manning a stall at the book fair for 10 years, but this is the first time something like this happened,” a volunteer said, referring to yesterday’s protest.In the vicinity of yesterday’s protest site, there is a stall offering free yoga classes and another selling the Bhagavad Gita. Across the hall, there are several other stores that have religious text on Hinduism, Sikhism, Islam and Christianity.Volunteers at Gideon say they thought the stalls can co-exist, so can different faiths. But one sentiment all of them echoed today while talking about yesterday’s demonstration is that they are now afraid.Police said no complaint has been filed.Hindu right-wing organisation Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) denied its involvement in the protest. It, however, accused Christian groups and missionaries of “trapping Hindus”.”It is the way they were distributing, pursuing or cheating people, denigrating other religions that’s what got the people agitated,” VHP spokesperson Vinod Bansal told news agency PTI.