International Christian Concern | April 5, 2020
Since the beginning of 2020, there has been a dramatic escalation in Christian persecution in the southern Indian state of Karnataka. Reports of violent attacks on the state’s Christians, often justified by false accusations of forced religious conversions, have become a regular part of the news.
Many Christians in Karnataka are worried that their state will become another Uttar Pradesh or Jharkhand, where Christian persecution feels like a state policy. With a state government being led primarily by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), some Christians are concerned this wave of persecution may be followed by the enactment of an anti-conversion law.
“There are four legal cases filed against my congregation and me,” Pastor Raja Bhovi, a church leader in Karnataka, told International Christian Concern (ICC). “None of the accusations from those cases are true. The radicals first threatened us to deny Jesus and our Christian faith. When we refused to recant, they beat us badly and started filing false cases against us.”
On January 12, a mob of 100 radical Hindu nationalists, led by a man named Raghu, attacked several Christian homes in Banni Mardatti village. The radicals, using wooden clubs and sharp stones, ransacked the houses and beat the Christian residents.
According to local Christians, four Christian women had to be rushed to the hospital and were admitted for a week. Following the attack, many of Banni Mardatti’s Christian families fled.
“The attackers think they are immune to any law,” Pastor Bhovi explained. “They proudly say that both in the state and at the center our party is ruling.”
“The corona lockdown has brought some relief to me,” Pastor Manju Keralli, another church leader from Karnataka, told ICC. “Because of the lockdown, the police are not searching to arrest me.”