INDIA – Christian Activists Disappointed Trump Didn’t Prioritize Religious Freedom During India Visit

NCR | Anto Akkara | February 29, 2020

President Donald Trump’s Feb. 24-26 visit to India turned out to be a disappointment for India’s beleaguered Christian minority, who are worried about increasied attacks on religious minorities in an environment of aggressive Hindu nationalism.

“The Christian community in India, as well as in the USA, had great expectations from the U.S. President, Mr. Donald Trump, as he was meeting the prime minister of India, of whom he self-confessed to be great admirer, in India, but it turned out to be more of a political campaign for his own constituency back in the U.S.,” A. C. Michael, spokesman of the United Christian Forum, told the Register Feb 27.

“The Christian community in the U.S. had met [U.S. officials] and submitted the details of atrocities Indian Christians are facing in India and how it has increased since 2014,” said Michael, a Catholic who is one of the UCF coordinators who have been documenting attacks against Christians. “But he failed to understand and address these issues appropriately.”

“Year after year, since 2014 {when Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power], incidents of attacks on Christians have increased consistently,” said Michael, citing UCF data documenting 147 such incidents in 2014, 177 in 2015, 208 in 2016, 240 in 2017, 292 in 2018 and 328 in 2019 — an increase of over 100% since Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party took power.

These numbers, he noted, “represent only a portion of the violence that is actually being experienced by the community. Many incidents go unreported due to fear of reprisals.

“As a matter of fact, according to the World Watch List of 50 countries, India’s rank has slipped to 10th most dangerous country in the world to live in for Christians, as against 28th in the year 2014,” Michael noted.

More than half of the 29 states in India, at least 15 of them, Michael said, “regularly witness attacks on Christians: Uttar Pradesh tops the list, followed by Tamil Nadu, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Telangana. Christians are also particularly at risk of violence and harassment in the states of Bihar, Delhi, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Punjab, Telangana, Uttarakhand and West Bengal.