03/29/2016 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, continues to remain silent on the issue of rising religious intolerance in India despite receiving an open letter signed by 34 members of the US Congress last month requesting him to specifically condemn attacks on India’s religious minority communities. Since that open letter was sent on February 26, 2016, International Christian Concern (ICC) has documented 27 religiously motivated instances of violence against India’s Christian community, affecting over 1,400 Christians.
India has seen a dramatic rise in Christian persecution as members of radical Hindu nationalist groups continue to go unpunished for attacks on Christians and their places of worship. According to the Catholic Secular Forum, Christians in India were attacked 365 times last year, making 2015 the worst year for Christians in India’s independent history. It also marked a 20% rise in the number of attacks on Christians from 2014.
“I continue to be very disappointed by India’s response to the religious persecution taking place across the country,” Congressman Joe Pitts, one of the leads on the open letter to India, told ICC.“In the one month since myself and 33 of my colleagues in the House and Senate called on Prime Minister Modi to publically condemn the ban on non-Hindu faiths in the Bastar District and other violent assaults on religious minorities, there has been little but evasion and obstruction by Mr. Modi’s government.”
“Meanwhile, reports have come in of Christian churches being burned or vandalized, pastors physically attacked or arrested, and of at least two Muslims, one just 15-years-old, beaten and hung by a mob for allegedly selling beef, all in the last four weeks,” Congressman Pitts continued.“These incidents are not an ‘aberration;’ they are part of a long-running pattern of religious intolerance that must be acknowledged and addressed.”
While India’s government continues to deny the facts on the ground, non-Hindus in India continue to be in the crosshairs for Hindu radical groups. Modi’s silence is deafening for those who face violence and threats for exercising a freedom that is meant to be protected by India’s constitution. As has been reported by the Indian media, radical Hindu groups see the government’s lack of enforcement of the law as tacit approval for their actions, leading ICC to believe that the situation will only worsen for India’s Christians and other religious minority communities if Modi continues to do nothing.
ICC’s Regional Manager for South Asia, William Stark, said, “It has been over a month since Prime Minister Modi and his government received an open letter from 34 members of the US Congress calling on him to specifically speak out against the intolerance faced by India’s religious minorities, yet little has changed. In fact, Prime Minister Modi and his government have not only failed to condemn attacks faced by India’s religious minorities, they have belittled the suffering for millions by calling reports of persecution in India ‘aberrations.’ While Prime Minister Modi has remained silent, we have recorded 27 separate attacks on Christians in India, affecting over 1,400 Christians. These attacks are not aberrations; they are the result of a trend in which millions of Indian citizens from minority faiths are being denied their constitutional right to religious freedom. India’s government must at least acknowledge this trend if they are to guarantee the rights promised to all Indian citizens in their constitution and maintain their reputation as a pluralistic democracy.
Seems to me the only way to get Modi’s attention is to threaten or withdraw all aid!