On Saturday 1 October, various Christian denominations in India are due to gather together for a nationwide protest over the growing persecution and discrimination they are facing. It is hoped the protest – which is being called for by The All India Christian Minority Front (AICMF) and will happen simultaneously across all 29 states – will address the “communal forces” that have a created a climate of fear amongst minority Christian communities and prompt the government to do more to protect Christians and their places of worship.
Philip Christy, president of AICMF, told ucanews.com that the AICMF and other Christian organisations have been consistently vocal in their concerns around the persecution and discrimination facing Christians at local levels but “nothing much has been done so it is time to make our voice heard”.
He added that the situation has worsened following the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), a pro-Hindu group, taking power in 2014. “Some communal forces attached to the party are creating an atmosphere of fear among Christians by attacking them and their places of worship,” Christy said. “They accuse us of wanting to convert [people].”
According to Dr John Dayal, spokesperson for the United Christian Forum, member of the National Integration Council and co-founder and Secretary General of the All India Christian Council (AICC), various Christian organisations recorded approximately 400 incidents of violence against Christians between 2014 and 2015. In the first six months of 2016, almost 200 incidents have already been reported.
Speaking to Barnabas Fund, Dr Dayal comments, “There is no doubt that persecution of Christians has aggravated considerably since 2013 when Mr Narendra Modi launched his political campaign to come to power in India. After becoming Prime Minister in May 2014, a new dimension has been added to the persecution by the aggravation in state impunity and tacit government support to non-state actors of the fundamentalist and violent Hindu groups collectively known as the Sangh Parivar.”
Barnabas Fund has reported on many recent incidents involving the targeting of Christians in India. On June 19, three Christians were severely beaten by a mob of 50-60 men and falsely accused of forcibly converting Hindus to Christianity. On 29 May, a pastor and his wife were assaulted during a worship service by four masked men with wooden sticks. And in April, a Bible College graduate called Deepak was brutally beaten. After being threatened with further attack unless he insulted the name of Jesus, Deepak said, “Kill me, but I will not abuse the name of Jesus.”