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India: Nationalism is ‘existential threat’ to Christians

August 2021 | by Evangelical Times

Prime Minister Narendra Modi CREDIT: United Nations
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The violent nature of persecution against Christians in India is not only particularly horrific, it is also systemic and often carefully orchestrated, a hard-hitting report has claimed.

The 12-page report, Destructive Lies: Disinformation, speech that incites violence and discrimination against religious minorities in India, stated that Christians in India are facing ‘imminent existential threat’ under a systemic campaign of violent Hindu nationalist persecution.

According to the report, carried out by the London School of Economics (LSE) and commissioned by Open Doors, a nationalist agenda at the heart of government is giving rise to hard-right Hindu extremists.

The report said, ‘It is now frequently the case that violent squads or vigilante mobs of Hindutva men with connections to local and national politicians or ambitions to be noticed and rewarded by local or national politicians intrude into the homes and places of worship of [Christian and Muslim] communities.

‘In line with this, our research found an atmosphere of deep trauma, fear and anxiety pervades the Christian communities we visited in rural areas, as well as many of the Christian and Muslim communities in medium-sized towns and villages and on the outskirts of larger cities.’

The report, which was presented to 38 members of the UK parliament on 1 July, is based on research carried out in February and March 2021 by teams trained in ethnographic data collection.

It explored instances of violence against Christians and Muslims, and presented case studies of people who were attacked, lynched, and, in one case, kicked in the stomach while eight months pregnant, resulting in a stillbirth.

The report cited the nationalist policies of ‘Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the national level’ that has ‘emboldened chief ministers in other Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-states to promote similar hardline majoritarian politics.

‘This kind of politics is not only prevalent in political discourse, but also translates to regressive laws (such as those seeking to punish Christians for “forced conversions” or punish Muslims for “love jihad”)’.

Even if a local reporter captures the real story, the final edit will be dictated by ‘an institutional hierarchy which is either risk averse or loyal to powerful Hindutva organisations and parties’, the report said.

The report also made seven recommendations for governments and international companies to follow. Recommendations included convening an international fact-finding commission, and requesting organisations and private investors who do business with the Indian government to take note of ongoing human rights violations.

Dr David Landrum, director of advocacy and public affairs for Open Doors UK and Ireland, said, ‘With waves of persecution sweeping over religious minorities, Christians are experiencing intense and unprecedented pressure in India.’

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