INDIA – Christians in India see dramatic increase of attacks in 2020

Christian Post | Leah MarieAnn Klett | April 21, 2020

Attacks on Christians and their places of worship in India continued to escalate in both number and severity in the early months of 2020, with 27 violent incidents reported in March alone.

United Christian Forum in India, a Christian organization that advocates on behalf of Christians in India, documented 56 threats against Christians as well as 26 physical assaults between January and March of 2020.

According to UCF, these attacks took place in Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Bihar, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Telangana, and Goa. In most cases, the attacks were perpetrated by mobs objecting to Christians holding worship services.

On March 12, a mob attacked a pastor and his 6-year-old son because they were running a house church. The mob reportedly forced the pastor’s 8-year-old daughter to strip and threatened to beat her to death if she did not comply.

On March 15, a mob of 300 individuals attacked a church service in Kunda Thana, located in India’s Uttar Pradesh state. There, the pastor of the church was beaten by the police and falsely charged with using the church for criminal offenses.

Persecution watchdog International Christian Concern warns that while India’s national lockdown in response to the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed down the number of attacks on Christians, such attacks will likely return when the lockdown is eventually lifted. 

“More must be done in India to secure the rights of the country’s Christian minority and bring the perpetrators of these attacks to justice,” says ICC. 

India is ranked 10th on Open Doors USA’s World Watch List of countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian. The organization says that Christians in the country face “horrific” levels of violence from extremists, with thousands of attacks taking place every year. 

Incidents targeting Indian Christians have risen steeply since 2014, when Narendra Modi of the Bharatiya Janata Party came to power, according to Open Doors, which notes that at least one Christian was attacked every day last year.

John Prabhudoss, chairman of the Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations of North America, told The Christian Post that Modi’s reelection has “brought about a sense of confidence among the Hindu radical party cadre that now they can attack the Christians and other religious minorities (Muslims) with impunity and they do not have to worry about the law enforcement.”

“Most Christian victims in the past could not go to the police but now it is almost certain that only victims will be charged by the police if they go to them. The police are scared of acting against Hindu party members who are attacking the Christians,” he said. 

According to Prabhudoss, President Donald Trump’s “ringing endorsement of Modi and the Hindu government’s handling of the religious violence in India has further strengthened their resolve.”

“The entire Indian Christian community is deeply disappointed in the president’s continued praise for Modi even after he returned from his recent India trip,” he said. The show of approval for Modi has “left the Indian Christians wondering why.”