Indian Christians Continue to Suffer as
Modi and the BJP Mark 4th Year in Power
Attacks on Christians Rise 232% Under BJP-Led Government
On March 26, 2014, Prime Minister Modi and the BJP-led government rose to power in a landslide victory in the 2014 national elections. Founded on a Hindu nationalist platform, many minorities feared that the rise of the BJP and its leader, Prime Minister Modi, would lead to increased hostility against their communities. Four years later, many of those fears have been realized.
According to the Evangelical Fellowship of India, incidents of persecution against Christians in India have increased from 147 in 2014, 177 in 2015, 250 in 2016, to now 351 in 2017. This marks a 232% increase in documented incidents of persecution faced by Indian Christians under the Modi administration.
These attacks ranged from physical assaults, to church vandalism, to social boycotts against Christians, to even the murder of Christian leaders. Many of these attacks were reportedly carried out by members of radical Hindu nationalist groups such as the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), or the Bajrangdal, emboldened by the “tacit approval” of the current government. According to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), “Members of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) tacitly supported these groups and used religiously-divisive language to further inflame tensions.”
In 2018, ICC conducted a survey of 1,000 Indian Christians regarding the current administration and issues of religious freedom. Of those surveyed, 84.45% said that minorities are less protected under the current administration of Prime Minister Modi and the BJP-led government. In states where anti-forced conversion laws are in force, and often abused by Hindu radicals to attack Christians, 77.24% of Christians reported experiencing discrimination seven or more times in the last year.
“There is a sense of impunity,” Dr. John Dayal, spokesperson for the United Christian Forum, told ICC. “It has been a painful four years for the Christian community.”
“State impunity is aggravating the issue, as is the officials’ collusion in harassment and repressive laws severely curb Freedom of Religion and Belief,” Dr. Dayal continued. “The leadership of Modi and the BJP has led to violence that has bruised both the constitution and psyche of the country.”
Pastor Santhosh Kumar Shiypuri, a recent survivor of an attack by Hindu radicals, said,“We have been forced to stop several house churches in and around Kanpur. In most cases, the police favor the Hindu radicals as the government both at the state and national levels are pro-Hindu political parties.”
William Stark, ICC’s Regional Manager, said, “Today marks the end of another difficult year for Christians in India. Religious intolerance and hostility continue to rise as the BJP-led government fails to confront radical Hindu nationalist groups that perpetrate much of the violence against India’s religious minorities. If India is to continue to be considered one of the world’s leading secular democracies, this trend cannot and must not continue.”