Christianity Today | August 3, 2020
The persecution of Christians in India intensified to “alarming” levels in the first half of 2020, a human rights group reports.
Hate crimes against Christians in the country rose by 41% in spite of a nationwide lockdown in response to coronavirus, Persecution Relief said in its half yearly report.
It reports 293 recorded hate crimes against Christians between January and June 2020, including five rapes and six murders, but it fears that these are “only a fraction” of the actual violence being perpetrated on the ground.
The six reported killings occurred across the states of Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Odisha, which have seen a “sudden surge of fierce Christian persecution”, the organisation said.
Other reported attacks include the sodomy and beating of a Christian father and son inside a police station, both of whom died as a result of their injuries.
In other cases, Christian families have been driven from their homes and forced to hide in the jungle, safe houses or temporary shelters after being excommunicated from their local communities.
Two Christian widows were reportedly raped and killed in Odisha and Chhattisgarh, leaving a total of eight children orphaned.
The five rape victims are reported to include a 10-year-old girl.
Across India, there were 130 cases of harassment, threats and intimidation, and 80 recorded instances of physical assault.
Shibu Thomas, founder of Persecution Relief said: “The vicious cruelty of these crimes exposes the tainted mentality and attitude of the religious extremists of this day and age.
“This frightening and contagious crusade of religious nationalism and intolerance has now peaked at new inhuman altitudes.”
The figures echo a report released last month by the Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI), which documented 135 cases of discrimination against Christians in the first half of 2020, including the horrific murder of a 14-year-old Christian boy who was stoned and dismembered.
The EFI blames the rise in persecution on right-wing groups “whose primary agenda is to create an atmosphere of fear among the Christian community and other religious minorities”.