Attacks against Christians in India have been rising at an alarming rate, according to reports from Christian advocacy group Release International.
Reports from the Hindu-majority country have described an ‘upswing’ in politically motivated attacks since the March 2017 elections, which saw a landslide victory for Hindu nationalists.
According to a statement from Release, the latest report of the All India Christian Council records an increase of almost 20 per cent in attacks against Christians in 2016. It says physical violence against Christians is up 40 per cent and murders have doubled.
In states across India, church workers have been beaten, threatened and killed. Attempts have been made to force Christians to renounce their faith and convert to Hinduism.
Church services and prayer meetings have been disrupted; and churches and Christian schools have been bombed, torched, vandalised and demolished. Bibles have been torn to pieces and burned.
Militants beat one evangelist with chains, stripped him and forced him to drink urine. A Christian cemetery was desecrated and skeletons dug up and strewn across the graveyard.
According to the Council’s report, called Atrocities on Christians in India, there is a fresh attack every 40 hours. It says, ‘The attacks have become severe and more frequent. Incidents used to be confined to a few states. Now the violence has spread to 23 states’.
Paul Robinson, chief executive of Release International, commented, ‘For some years now, we have watched the alarming rise of religious intolerance in India. This is highlighted by moves to impose anti-conversion laws, not only at state level, but across the country. Some of these attacks and accounts of God at work read like stories out of the book of Acts’.