Christians in India have endured a rapid increase of violent persecution with over 200 reports of incidents this year.
“The attacks are spread across the country and usually take the form of mob attacks, which can include interruptions to worship and prayer services, intimidation, verbal assault, and even death threats and violence,” Johanna Hohenberg, Communications Officer for Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) told Faithwire.
ADF in India has discovered that 218 incidents have occurred this year. Despite the large number, only 25 police reports after the attacks have been filed. According to Hohenberg, the violence “rarely receives the police attention that it should.”
For many of these incidents, a mob will appear at a Christian gathering, shouting and beating up anyone in their way. Often, when the police arrive, the perpetrators are not arrested. The police instead bring in the pastors or priests under the false allegation of forced conversions, which is illegal in India.
“These are not isolated incidents and there has been an increase recorded this year—the average has risen from 20 to 27 per month since last year,” Hohenberg said.
Many watchdog groups point to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for the increased persecution. Ever since the party rose to power in 2014, the attacks have more than doubled.
“The Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI) documented 147 incidents of anti-Christian violence in 2014, the year the BJP took control of the central government,” International Christian Concern’s Regional Manager for South Asia, William Stark, said to Faithwire. “That number skyrocketed to 351 documented incidents in 2017 and then 325 documented incidents in 2018.”
According to Stark, the BJP uses divisive language to stir up trouble. “In their speeches, these leaders and politicians single out Christians and Muslims as followers of ‘foreign faiths’, individuals who are ‘anti-national’ and deserving of suspicion,” he said.
The attacks are often committed by radical Hindu nationalist groups who take the messages to heart. The police rarely take action to help victims after the violence and Christians are often unable to take legal action, though ADF is attempting to seek legal victories for survivors.
“Nobody should be persecuted because of their faith,” Hohenberg said. “It is very worrying to see these acts of mob violence not only continue but also increase. Special laws should be put in place in order to protect Christians and other religious minorities from these attacks and false accusations,” Hohenberg concluded.
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