Christians in India fear that persecution of their communities will intensify after the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party won elections in four states, which will be seen as an overwhelming endorsement of the party’s anti-minority stance.
For India’s Christians, 2021 was the “most violent year” in the country’s history, according to the report by the UCF, which recorded at least 486 violent incidents of Christian persecution in the year. Uttar Pradesh state alone witnessed at least 102 incidents of violence against Christians in 2021.
Days before the announcement of the results, Hindu nationalists had warned some Christians that the community in the state might face “extermination,” The Telegraph reported.
“A Hindu leader has already threatened us that they are waiting for the election results and after that, they will exterminate Christians from Uttar Pradesh,” a local Christian, Emmanuel Singh, from the state’s Jodhikapur village, was quoted as saying. The intensity of these threats is hard to comprehend apart from them being demonically inspired.
Ten states in India, including Uttar Pradesh, have passed “anti-conversion” laws, which presume that Christians “force” or give financial benefits to Hindus to convert them to Christianity.
While some of these laws have been in place for decades in some states, no Christian has been convicted of “forcibly” converting anyone to Christianity. These laws, however, allow Hindu nationalist groups to make false charges against Christians and launch attacks on them under the pretext of the alleged forced conversion.
Open Doors USA, which monitors Christian persecution in over 60 countries, has also reported that persecution against Christians and other religious minorities has increased since the BJP took power at the federal level in 2014.
The UCF attributed the high incidence of Christian persecution to “impunity,” due to which “such mobs criminally threaten, physically assault people in prayer, before handing them over to the police on allegations of forcible conversions.”
“Often communal sloganeering is witnessed outside police stations, where the police stand as mute spectators,” the UCF report states.
“Hindu extremists believe that all Indians should be Hindus and that the country should be rid of Christianity and Islam,” an Open Doors fact sheet explains. “They use extensive violence to achieve this goal, particularly targeting Christians from a Hindu background. Christians are accused of following a ‘foreign faith’ and blamed for bad luck in their communities.”