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SITUATION FOR INDIA’S RELIGIOUS MINORITIES AT TIPPING POINT

A report by Open Doors shows a dramatic increase in the number of attacks on Christians and Muslims in India in the last 4 years and “the situation is at a tipping point”.  The number of reported incidents in the first 3 months of 2018 was greater than the total number of attacks in the whole of 2014, according to the report.  Last year India entered, for the first time, the top 10 of the same organisation’s World Watch List, an index of the 50 countries where it is most difficult to live as a Christian.  Since the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power in 2014, the number of violent acts against Christians, Muslims and tribal Dalits (India’s lowest caste) have increased.

Most incidents were reported in the Indian states of Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra, followed by Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, and Jharkhand.  The report identifies four “drivers” of persecution: “Hindutva ideology, Anti-conversion laws, the misuse of The Panchayatiraj Extension to Scheduled Areas Act, 1996 law and, the caste system.  These combine to create a toxic environment where violence and discrimination is an everyday reality for many of India’s religious minorities.  Also, according to the Open Doors report, “it is deeply concerning that one reporting agency on the ground documented 775 incidents against Christians in 2018, including 14 murders.

775 incidents in 2018 represents the religious persecution of 50,819 unique people; 18,956 of whom were men; 18,858 of whom were women; and 12,790 of whom were children.  These figures represent only one reporting agency’s findings.  Given that no one organization captures the totality of religious freedom violations, these figures only demonstrate the need for proper documentation and monitoring of an escalating environment of religious-based violence.” “India struggles with incidents of local intolerance and violence against minorities.  Security and justice for all must be guaranteed by state authorities,” Jan Figel, EU Envoy for freedom of religion tweeted.

One day earlier, six Indian Christians were injured when they were attacked by Hindu militants in one of their homes.  The group of about 40 people was meeting for prayer at the home of their pastor in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, when 25 Hindu militants attacked.  They raided the house, damaged Bibles and other property, and verbally and physically abused the Christians, seriously injuring six of them.  The police refused to open investigations until those injured had seen a doctor for a medical assessment.  Before the incident the attackers had threatened to kill the Christians if they continued holding their prayer meetings.

Source: World Watch Monitor