There is increasing intolerance in India amongst Hindu youths towards other religious minorities, one Indian Christian leader has told a meeting in the House of Lords.
Speaking at a reception organised by religious freedom group ADF International, Dr Michael Williams blamed India’s ‘fundamentalist’ government. He said it was comparable to Islamic radicalisation or fascism in Germany in the 1930s.
He quoted government statistics showing attacks in the communities have risen 30 per cent in over three years, with almost 1,000 incidents recorded in 2017, leading to 111 people being killed and over 2,500 being injured.
Dr Williams, who is Dean of Mount Carmel Schools in India, said, ‘Violence against Christian minority communities has also escalated in the past few years.
‘Faith-based human rights organisations have reported over 800 incidents in the past four years. Out of the 29 states in India, 16 states regularly witness attacks on Christians today’.
He said the modus operandi of the incidents are very similar and include the ‘return home’ movement to convert people to Hinduism.
He also said the authorities refuse permission for churches to establish and run places of worship, churches are falsely accused of forceful religious conversations, pastors are physically and verbally abused, and the list goes on.
He asked, ‘Why is there an environment of such religious persecution? From the rich heritage of hospitality and tolerance, our wealth of beautiful hardworking people has all been reduced to fractionalised groups growing in moral piety.
‘We have become the poor billionaire who gambled on the 2014 election hoping for positive economic reform, only to find the core of our wealth has shifted religious loyalties.
‘It is clear to the world at large in spite of all the rhetoric that the ruling party in India is unable or perhaps unwilling to disassociate itself from its call to make India into a one-religion state.
‘This unfortunately has empowered Hindu unemployed youth and political wannabes who are vying to show who can be least tolerant of religious minorities, cause them more harm and prove to their lords and masters their twisted concept of nationalism.
‘Similar to the radicalisation of many Islamic countries to the fascism in Germany in the 1930s, India has now well and truly crossed the line of secular patronage and democratic values and traditions. Dissent has no rule and minorities are no longer treated as first-class citizens.
‘The second perhaps most important point is that while Christianity teaches, and most humanity believes, all men are created equal in God’s sight, the Hindutva followers refuse to accept this. Apart from their dislike of other religions, greater perhaps is their dislike of lower caste Hindus which include the Dalits and the tribals’.