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Attacks on Christians see steep rise across India 

By A C Michael

New Delhi: There is a clear pattern of rising religious intolerance across the country, especially against the minorities.

According to the World Watch List 2017, India is now ranked 15th in the list of countries where the practice of the faith is a high-risk activity. We were ranked 31 only four years ago.

Out of 29 states in India, at least 19 regularly witness attacks on Christians. Tamil Nadu and Chhattisgarh tops the list with 36 incidents as on October 30, followed by Uttar Pradesh (26), Madhya Pradesh (21), Maharashtra (16).

Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Delhi, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Odisha, Punjab, Rajasthan, Telangana, Uttarakhand and West Bengal are the other states.

More than 700 cases of attacks on Christians were reported on the United Christian Forum (UCF) toll free helpline number 1800-208-4545 since 2014. Last year, 216 incidents were recorded and 203 incidents have already been reported by the end of October this year.

The happenings in Madhya Pradesh are suspected to be politically motivated attacks. On three separate occasions, Christian children traveling in a train for a Christian camp were taken into custody at railway stations by the Railway Police on the grounds that the children were being “kidnapped to be converted.”

On May 22 and 23, nine elders and a minor were arrested by the Railway Police when they were accompanying 71 Christian children for a summer Bible camp to Nagpur from Indore. On June `3, a Catholic nun and four girls were detained at the Satna railway station. On October 21, two elders and seven children going for Bible Studies were detained and not allowed to meet the parents.

There are various kinds of incidents against Christians. Most common among them is the Hindutva activists forcefully conducting Ghar Wapsi (drive to convert people back to Hinduism) ceremony. Some who refused to cooperate were beaten up and subsequently booked by the police under falsely-framed charges. Other ways of harassing the Christian community include:

• Refusal to grant permission to establish and run places of worship
• Allegations of use of loud sound systems
• Restrictions of the free distribution of gospel tracts
• False accusation of forceful and fraudulent religious conversions
• Physical and verbal assault on Church pastors and members
• False and divisive propaganda
• Damage and desecration of places of worship and arson
• Disruption of prayer services
• Restrictions on religious gatherings

The Christian community in the country has started to feel that none of the political parties are interested in speaking out for the community, as they continue to maintain a deafening silence on these incidents. Sometimes even the media fails to report these incidents.

The only alternative left to the community is to take them up in courts of law. More than 80 cases are now pending in various courts including over 30 in the Supreme Court and various High courts.

Some cases pertain to ‘discriminatory laws and policies’ that violate the freedom of conscience and the freedom to practice, profess and propagate religious beliefs:

1. 1950 PRESIDENTIAL ORDER: Dalits who convert to Christianity or Islam are denied special benefits and protections guaranteed to other Schedule Castes
2. ANTI CONVERSION LAWS: The Freedom of Religion Acts are used to harass and abuse the right of Christians who share the good news in the exercise of their fundamental right to profess, practice and propagate their faith. In 2012, rules framed under the anti-conversion law in Himachal Pradesh that required persons to declare beforehand to the District Magistrate any intent to embrace a certain faith was struck down by the High Court of Himachal Pradesh at Shimla.

3. NO ENTRY FOR CHRISTIAN PREACHERS: In 2014-2015, several Panchayat resolutions were passed in Chhattisgarh to ban Christian preachers’ entry into certain villages. These resolutions were withdrawn by the government following a challenge to them before the High Court of Chhattisgarh at Bilaspur.

4. RESTRICTIONS ON CHURCHES AND PRAYER HALLS: Across the country, Christians are being restricted from conducting private prayers peacefully inhome churches and community halls. Even family prayers have been restricted in some cases.

VIOLENCE MONITOR: OCTOBER 2017

 

(A C Michael is the Consulting Director of Alliance Defending Freedom)

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5 Responses to Attacks on Christians see steep rise across India

  1. K. C. Thomas

    Oh Thankappan writes that bishops and priests willing to become martyres are needed. No here we are thinking of “diplomacy” to escape from martyrdom. They are afraid to say the name JESUS outside the church or their rooms. Our enemies know this and will continue their attacks. We will project schools and colleges or hospitals as our moral assets. The enemies will project them as corrupt and are for conversion. Then we will say we never convert.
    See how the arguments go to defeat us and bury us ! !

     
  2. Fr. Augustine Singh, PhD

    This article clearly tells the unpleasant yet true face of the present state of affairs in our Indian society. Barely any state is spared! It is highly regretted that the Administrators have not been able to provide necessary protection to the minority, specifically the Christians. Very crucial matter that incites is: the Freedom of Religion Act or/and Anti Conversion Bill — this is totally against the fundamental rights of the citizens. Why then the governments in some states press upon this? Instead, one could design such a manner to administer peacefully, for everybody’s good and prosperity.

     
  3. Thankapan vaidhyar

    When persecution increases what is the strategy of the local church is very significant. Few reactions are like
    ₹. leaving Christianity and follow rather socially safe religion,
    ₹. the other is compromise in a common conscience and avoid practicing Christian life which provok the enemies (generally and wrongly attribute as the prudence),

    +. third is the method of early church, gatherings in catechums offering mass with intense desires etc. Many were ready to be martyred, like that of Kandhmal.
    Most of the bishops were in front line for martyrdom!!!

    In fact Church in India need bishops who are ready to become martyred for the Christ and his mission…

     
    • A. S. Mathew

      It is true and an open reality that the foundation of the Christian Church is the blood of the martyrs. Also, history tells that through the persecution of the Church, the Church has grown up rapidly.

      When India got independence, C. Rajagopalachari-C.P. Ramaswami Iyer-Sardar Vallabhia Patel-Moranji Desai and some other friends tried to influence Pundit Nehru to block the visa for the Christian Missionaries; he never listened to that because he saw the great contribution given by the minority Christians and Missionaries in uplifting the society in education-healthcare and social reforms. Pundit Nehru secretly told Morarji Desai ” if we give any persecution to the Christians, they will rapidly grow, so leave them alone”. Pundit Nehru’s book ” Glimpse of World History “, he has very precisely written about Christianity. It is too sad that we are now ruled by the illiterates in history.

      In 1950, the Christian population of Korea being a Buddhist nation was only very nominal 1%, but now the Christian population of South Korea is 30%. South Korea is ranking at the top in sending Christian missionaries to the world, they train their professionals like teachers-engineers-doctors etc, how to reach out people for Christ abroad. How, now South Korean cars-T.V.-household appliances and other goods are taking over the world challenging Japan-Europe and U.S. products.

      The attacks undertaken by the Government will increase the number of Christian believers in India. The vast majority of the people coming to follow JESUS CHRIST from Hinduism-Islam religions etc are through personal healing and visions. Let the persecution increase, more healing and visions will be taking place, because the Christians are worshiping a LIVING GOD who rose from the dead, HIS NAME IS JESUS CHRIST.

       
  4. A. S. Mathew

    Clear proof of attacks against the Christian minority with specific details which can’t be opposed or disprove by the Government.

    India’s crashing in the World’s watch list from 31st ranking four years back, now 15th is too alarming to watch.

    If the persecutors of the Christians who are driven through political inspiration of certain political party are totally brainwashed and blinded to see, how much the minority Christians have done to uplift the downtrodden people of India, the great role played in healthcare and education, that is a pure tragedy and shame.

     
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