Displaying items by tag: India
On 17 October Sri Lankan fishermen launched a flotilla of boats from the northeastern fishing town of Mullaittivu to Sri Lanka’s northernmost tip, Point Pedro away. They are demanding that the government does more to protect the nation's prawn-rich northern waters from poaching by Indian fishing trawlers in the narrow Palk Strait which separates the South Asian neighbours. Bottom trawling was banned from Sri Lankan waters in 2017 because it involves dragging heavy nets across the seafloor to catch a large volume of fish, causing severe damage to the marine ecosystem. However, the authorities have failed to stop Indian poaching even though their fishing community has been complaining for years. Mass poaching takes valuable fish stocks away from Sri Lankan fishermen, so they struggle to make ends meet. Palk Strait is a rich fishing ground known for jumbo prawns. Sri Lanka regularly detains large numbers of Indian fishers and seizes their boats, but poaching continues.
A mob of 300 chanting ‘Hail Lord Ram! Victory to Lord Ram’ attacked the House of Prayer church, destroying CCTV cameras, lights, fans, musical instruments and furniture. Eva Lance, the church leader, tried to call the police but couldn’t connect. The mob tried to set fire to vehicles parked outside and attacked twelve church members. One man was beaten semi-unconscious, a woman’s hair was pulled out and a young boy was found lying in a pool of his own blood and vomit after having his ears cut off and being badly beaten. He was hospitalised. The police opened an investigation naming Eva’s former school principal and a member of a right-wing Hindu group among those responsible. Then the mob filed a counter case against the victims, accusing them of non-bailable offences like molestation, robbery and organised crime. Christian Solidarity Worldwide said the involvement of the police and community leaders in this attack must be a wake-up call to India’s lawmakers.
Record-breaking rains and heavy flooding have killed over 150 people in India and Nepal in recent days. 77 have been killed, 22+ injured, and 26 are missing across Western Nepal; at least 46 have died in Uttarakhand, and 27 bodies have been recovered in Kerala. 11 teams from the National Disaster Response Force also evacuated 6,500 people to 184 relief camps. Crops have been destroyed, roads are waterlogged, bridges washed away, vehicles submerged, and houses reduced to rubble in Kerala, home to 33 million people. The flooding comes in the middle of a religious pilgrimage when Hindus journey to Uttarakhand. 3,000 pilgrims were evacuated from a barge on the Sarda River, which had overflowed. Meanwhile more than 200 families are currently in a further 26 evacuation camps across the state. Heavy rainfall is forecast to continue for the coming days, and residents are urged to stay indoors.
The federal government declared relief initiatives of food grains ration cards last March to mitigate the effects of Covid. The cards were insufficient. 50% of rural households had to reduce their number of meals and 68% reduced the number of items in their meals. The Dalit community are at the bottom of the complex cast hierarchy, are marginalised and experiencing the worst effects of pandemic. Over 60% of women are anemic. Livelihoods have collapsed and hunger is now an epidemic. Workers Action Network reported increased workloads for women but decreased pay. Within homes women are the last to eat and have the least to eat. This is particularly severe for pregnant and lactating women. Today’s situation will have long-term effects on public health and nutrition. Dalit and Adivasi women die younger than dominant-caste women, and nutrition and health have always been a struggle for them.
Mobs are targeting Christian households, led by aggressive Hindu vigilantes known for their hardline approach. Churches are vandalised, pastors are beaten or abused. Congregations are broken up by mobs and believers hospitalised with injuries. The police raid church services to threaten and arrest congregations. This persecution coincides with renewed attention on a longstanding claim that a string of forced conversions are taking place in Chhattisgarh. Speeches, rallies and press statements have openly attacked Christian pastors and believers for allegedly converting tens of thousands of people from tribal communities and poor, lower-caste Hindu families. They are alleged (without evidence) to have been lured into churches by proselytising pastors offering cash payments, free medical assistance, and foreign trips, funded by foreign donors. Dozens of ‘anti-conversion’ rallies have been held in the past month.
At least 30 Christians in India’s Uttar Pradesh have recently been falsely accused of forced religious conversions. This was triggered after Hindu nationalists, including members of the BJP party, claimed two Muslim men forcefully converted 1,000 people. BJP politicians publicly praised the arrests and warned against fraudulent conversions of Hindus to other faiths. Now Christians in Uttar Pradesh are being attacked by radical Hindu nationalists justifying their assaults by falsely accusing the Christians of illegal conversions. Similar anti-conversion laws and abuse of Christians are being enacted in eight other states. ‘This is a grave situation for Christians. ‘There is zero response from the Yogi administration. The attacks are mainly perpetrated by hardcore Hindutva activists who enjoy the support of the politicians’, said a church leader, who requested anonymity.
India has ramped up its coronavirus vaccine production and approved Johnson & Johnson's single-dose vaccine for emergency use amid warnings of a third wave. The vaccine, with 85% efficacy, will be introduced through a supply agreement with homegrown vaccine maker Biological E. It is still unclear when the vaccine will be available. Daily case counts have fallen from 400,000, but they still average up to 40,000, and experts have warned that a third wave of infections is inevitable. Johnson & Johnson's jab is the second foreign vaccine to be granted emergency use authorisation under a new policy not requiring manufacturers to conduct local clinical trials if the vaccine is approved by WHO. In June the Moderna vaccine was given Indian approval, but the company is locked in a legal tussle, and no one has yet been given Immunisation.
A new wave of Christian persecution began after two Muslim men were arrested and charged under the new anti-conversion law. Hindu nationalists, including BJP members, claimed they had been involved in forceful conversion of 1,000 people. Using the arrests as an opportunity for political gain, BJP politicians publicly warned against illegal conversions of Hindus to non-Hindu faiths. Since then, International Christian Concern has documented at least thirty Christians in Uttar Pradesh being attacked by radical Hindu nationalists. In each of these incidents, perpetrators justified their attacks by falsely accusing their Christian victims of engaging in fraudulent conversions. ‘This is a grave situation for Christians in the state,’ a church leader, requesting anonymity, said. ‘There is zero response from the Yogi administration, which empowers the attackers to do more. The attacks are perpetrated by the hardcore Hindutva activists who are supported by politicians.’
Religious minorities in India are facing “systematic persecution” at the hands of Hindu nationalists, which is condoned by the authorities, the police, and the media, new research suggests.
The report Destructive Lies: Disinformation, speech that incites violence and discrimination against religious communities in India, by the Christian charity Open Doors, based on research compiled by a team from the London School of Economics (LSE), says that Christian and Muslim minorities are facing an “existential threat” from mobs of Hindu nationalists known as Hindutva.
Hindutva is an ideology that disregards Indian Christians and Muslims (and other religious minorities) as true Indians because they have allegiances that lie outside India and asserts the country should be purified of their presence. This is leading to a systemic, and often carefully orchestrated, targeting of Christians and other religious minorities.
Researchers from the LSE - who have not been named for safety reasons - said that “state actors” were complicit in the attacks, as well as media, and senior religious leaders, who offered tacit approval for the violence. Social media are also frequently being used to stir up attacks on minorities, with impunity.
One researcher said: “The extent to which . . . state actors are complicit in the violence is shocking; it was there even at the ground level. The bureaucrats, the police, the lower court judges, all of them are . . . openly colluding to harass these minorities. And politicians, top religious leaders, and powerful media owners [are giving] very overt signals that this [behaviour] is desirable.”
Christian communities are now living in an “atmosphere of deep trauma, fear and anxiety”, the report says.
“Apart from regular spectacular incidents of mob lynching, even daily life for many religious minority groups is now marked by fear and a sense of abandonment from their fellow beings as well as from the government, and indeed their own religious institutions,” researchers said.
The report featured 8 case studies and determined 4 headline findings:
1. Persecution pervades everyday life
The research found that ‘an atmosphere of deep trauma, fear and anxiety pervades the Christian communities that 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’.
2. Covid-19 has made persecution even worse
Not only have Christians been deliberately overlooked in the distribution of Covid-19 government aid, they have also been the subject of disinformation relating to the pandemic. These lies have spread across mainstream and social media platforms and apps.
3. State officials are increasingly hostile
Some Indian states have anti-conversion laws. These are frequently used to target Christians for ‘forced conversions’ and reflect how hard-line Hindu influences in the political sphere translates to regressive laws.
4. Attacks are shared as warnings on social media
One of the first things extremists will do before attacking Christians and other religious minorities is snatch their phones. This is to prevent them documenting the incident. But the perpetrators themselves will record the attack and post it on social media.
Pray with us that the UK Parliament will respond to this report and use their influence to improve the lives of Christians in India.
Pray with us that each recommendation in the report will be fulfilled.
Pray with us that the lives of Christians in India will be changed (2 Timothy 3:11–12)
Although Christian persecution continues to rise in India, the only recent survey of this fact was in 2020 when a report from the Evangelical Fellowship of India listed 366 incidents where Christians were targeted, 40+ in the first two months. Most incidents feature physical violence, threats, harassment, and the disruption of church services by religious radicals or the police. Disruption of prayer meetings and Sunday worship is now a trend across many states. Many Christians are falsely accused and detained on charges of forced conversion. The US commission on international religious freedom has said, ‘Religious hate crimes in India are rising. Mob violence is carried out against Christians accused of forced or induced religious conversion.’ Christians make up a little over 2% of India’s population. Though they are often accused of following a ‘foreign’ religion, the gospel was introduced there in the first century through Jesus’ disciple Thomas.