Christians under threat in India
A series of persecution incidents has raised concerns for many Indian Christians following the re-election of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Since the BJP claimed a landslide victory in May, International Christian Concern has documented a large increase in attacks against Christians. I interviewed an Indian national who wished to remain anonymous for security reasons.
In February and March 2018, around 2000 Muslims in various states were massacred by mobs of militant Hindus. Many other Muslims lost their loved ones, homes or livelihoods, and huge numbers are still unable to return to their homes because of the hostility of their Hindu former neighbours. However, the plight of the Christian minority in India is also acute. The widespread attacks on Christian churches has increased in the past year. The Hindu extremists barge into the middle of services and threaten and abuse the worshippers. If this does not scare the Christians away the extremists get the police along and shut down the church and the fellowship by force and chase the worshippers away.
On 20 June, 2018, five Christian women (aged 20 to 35) were beaten and abducted from their school while they performed a street play. A day after they were released (the attackers threatened to kill them if they went to the police), the women reported the assault to authorities. It was soon confirmed that all five women had been gang-raped, which was allegedly filmed on cell phones. In 2018, more than 12,000 Christians were attacked. But this number is only the tip of the iceberg, researchers say, as increasing numbers of persecution acts go unreported. The number of churches attacked has increased substantially from 34 last year to 98 this year and Christian schools have also been targeted by Hindu radicals. The authorities do not hold the perpetrators to account and India now ranks as the tenth most dangerous country to live in if you are a Christian.
A number of Christians and other observers have wondered aloud why the government is not focusing on more pressing issues, such as unemployment, health, illiteracy and access to clean water. They also wonder at the government’s hostility to conversions; in fact, the percentage of Christians of the total population, far from increasing through conversions, has actually decreased over recent decades.
Please pray for Christians in India and that the government there will, once again, allow religious freedom.