Why does Sadvi Prachi hate Muslims
Country profile India. Position on the world tracking index. Table of Contents. 10th place / 83 points (WVI 2020: 10th place / 83 points)
Country profile India Position on the world tracking index 10th / 83 points (WVI 2020: 10th / 83 points) Reporting period: October 1, 2019 September 30, 2020 Table of contents Brief summary ... 2 1. Position on the world tracking index ... 2 2. Trends and developments ... 3 3. Religious situation in the country ... 3 4. Driving forces of persecution ... 4 5. Persecutors ... 5 6. Regional hot spots of persecution ... 8 7. Affected Christians ... 8 8. Areas of life affected and occurrence of violence ... 10 9. Persecution of other religious groups ... 17 10. Prayer requests ... 18 Page 1
Brief Summary The rights of all Christians in India are being violated as extremist Hindus view Christians as undesirable foreigners. They want to cleanse their country of Islam and Christianity and are not afraid to use considerable force to achieve this goal. Hindu Christians bear the brunt of the persecution in India. They are under constant pressure to return to Hinduism, particularly through the return campaigns known as Ghar Wapsi (Back to Roots or Coming Home). Often these Christians are also physically attacked, sometimes even killed. Complete Country Profile This country profile is a translated excerpt from the Country Dossier from World Watch Research, the research division of Open Doors. The full Country Dossier with further background information can be found here. 1. Position on the world persecution index The table shows the ratings and placements of the past five years, provided that the country has achieved more than 41 points, indicating a high degree of persecution. With a score of 83 points on the World Tracking Index 2021, the number of points has not changed compared to the previous year. In some categories that measure violence against Christians, the score has decreased compared to last year. However, this is not evidence that the situation for Christians has improved. The violence against Christians continues to be at an extreme level and the pressure on Christians continues to be very high to extreme in all areas of life. Since the government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power in May 2014 and was even re-elected with an absolute majority in May 2019, the pressure on Christians in India has increased dramatically. Hindu extremists were able to carry out their attacks on non-Hindus unhindered and with impunity. Page 2
2. Trends and Developments 1) Hostility towards Christians in society has increased Since Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power in May 2014, the level of religious freedom violations against Christians has increased dramatically. Talking about the Christian faith with others outside of one's own family is widely viewed as a form of evangelism. Intolerance, on the other hand, has grown over the past five years. To profess the Christian faith is equivalent to evangelism in the eyes of extremist Hindus. The growing hostility of society towards Christians is increasingly (if not exclusively) expressed in social media, which are widely used. 2) The BJP consolidates its position of power In the elections in April and May 2019, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) gained an absolute majority in parliament. This means that Prime Minister Modi will remain in power for the next five years. Hindu extremists will continue to take action against Muslims and Christians with impunity. The level of violence is therefore likely to remain at an extreme level. In August 2019, Modi's government revoked sovereignty from the Jammu and Kashmir region, in which Muslims form the majority, and declared the region to be two separate union territories (Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh). This means that the central government can exercise more power there. Both Pakistan and China reacted indignantly and tensions are mounting. 3. Religious situation in the country According to estimates by the World Christian Database from February 2020, there are around one billion Hindus in India (72.5% of the population), 200 million Muslims (14.5% of the population), 67.4 million Christians ( 4.9% of the population), 50 million followers of ethnic religions (3.6% of the population), 25.5 million Sikhs (1.8% of the population) and 10.5 million Buddhists (0.8% of the population). Hinduism has dominated India for centuries (it began to develop between 500 and 300 BC). The second largest religion in India is Islam. In percentage terms, this seems to be an insignificant minority until you consider that India is the country with the third largest Muslim population on earth. Only in Indonesia and Pakistan are there more Muslims. The Christian faith is the third largest religion in India. Christians from Protestant free churches (including Christians of other religious backgrounds) are the fastest growing group of Christians in India. Page 3
Bureaucracy and corruption are a problem well known across India: when Christians try to build a new church or renovate an existing one, they will face a lot of bureaucracy and resistance. The only way to get around the obstacle of red tape is to pay bribes. Many employees in the lower administrative offices have low incomes and try to secure additional income through corruption in order to survive. Christians in India face these obstacles in almost every area of their lives. The fourth largest religious group are followers of the so-called ethnic religions. These are the traditional tribal religions that existed before the arrival of Hinduism and Buddhism in the country. Sikhs form the next largest group. They live mainly in the state of Punjab in northwest India. Buddhists make up only 0.8% of the country's population. Buddhism has its origins in India between the 4th and 6th centuries BC. BC, from where it spread over large parts of Asia. 4. Driving Forces of Persecution Religiously Motivated Nationalism The determination and readiness to use violence of Hindu organizations have increased over the years. They claim that India belongs to Hinduism and that other religions should be expelled from the country. Extremist Hinduism is by far the main driving force behind the persecution in India. He is omnipresent, opinionated and very violent. Persecution also emanates from various other extremist groups, such as extremist Buddhists in Ladakh, neo-Buddhism in Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh, and extremist Sikhs in Punjab. Since 2014, religiously motivated nationalism has also influenced tribal groups and leads them to regard their religions as belonging to Hinduism. Ethnic-religious hostility combined with religiously motivated nationalism In the states of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha, in southern Madhya Pradesh, in southern Gujarat, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Tripura, Nagaland and Manipur there are areas with tribal societies. The Hindu extremist movement Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has successfully infiltrated these tribal societies and turned them against the Christians in these areas. In these tribal areas, people have come to the Christian faith and continue to do so. This is nothing new; Churches have existed in the tribal areas for at least 100 to 150 years, and Christians have experienced little violent resistance. Since the late 1990s, however, the RSS, the Hindu nationalist organization Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) and its member organizations have been working systematically to divide tribal societies and to arouse resistance against Christians. More and more Christians who follow page 4
turned away from, threatened, socially excluded and expelled ethnic religions; they are denied drinking water, raped and even murdered. In a number of cases, the construction of church buildings was forcibly stopped by the villagers. Ethnic-religious hostility is quickly becoming a serious threat to Christians in India. Dictatorial paranoia combined with religiously motivated nationalism After winning the May 2019 election, the BJP formed a new government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is hailed as the strong man supposed to lead India. As a result, dictatorial tendencies can be seen. Control of social media, inflammatory speeches and the banning of media that challenge government policies and statistics are just some of the signs of a growing dictatorial movement within government circles. Attacks (including false reports) against journalists, opposition leaders, human rights activists and media chiefs are triggered by the state apparatus. Propaganda against foreign religions such as Islam and the Christian faith is also increasing. Clan / Tribe Oppression Clan or tribe oppression is widespread in some parts of northern India. In the so-called Jat belt (i.e. in the regions of Punjab, Haryana and parts of Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh) the so-called Khap-Panchayats (clan courts) rule. They can make decisions about life and death and act independently of the country's legal system. The police close their eyes to this and even show themselves to be cooperative. Most of its members come from the same social backgrounds led by khaps. The khaps seem to oppose everything modern; they are against a marriage that contradicts the rules of the community regarding kinship and desired religion and status. For this reason, adopting the Christian faith is considered a serious criminal offense. Clan or tribe oppression is becoming a serious threat to Christians in India. In the tribal villages of India, where Christians are few, many Christians of Hindu origin have been forced to return to Hinduism, particularly through the return campaigns called Ghar Wapsi. Under the influence of extremist Hindus, the tribal leaders of the villages impose heavy fines on Christians and destroy their homes. These Christians are ostracized and excluded if they do not follow the demands of the tribal leaders. 5. Persecutors Based on Religiously Motivated Nationalism Non-Christian Religious Leaders: Hindu leaders are essentially responsible for spreading prejudice against Christians among the Hindu majority. Examples are: Yogi Adityanath, the founder of the Hindu Yuva page 5
Vahini, a militia responsible for most of the attacks in Uttar Pradesh; Sakshi Mahraj, who is part of a legislative assembly; Sadhvi Pragya, Sadhvi Prachi, Rajrajeshwaracharya and Narendra Maharaj. These people are known for their open hate speech against Christians. They act as mediators between religious-nationalist ideologies and their implementation on site; they spread misinformation and plan and carry out violent acts against Christians and other minorities. Violent religious groups: Various extremist Hindu groups such as VHP, RSS or Sangh Parivar are active in India. It is almost always such groups who exert Hindu-motivated pressure on Christians. Other violent groups are Maoist Naxalites and Islamist groups such as the so-called Islamic State (IS), although the latter has not yet attacked Christians in India. Ordinary Citizens: At the village level, members of the village community play a major role in persecuting Christians, both Christian converts of Hindu origin and other Christians. It is mostly ordinary villagers who attack Christians, for example by beating them up, burning churches or desecrating cemeteries. Political parties: The BJP has a majority in the central government of India. The party is the political arm of the RSS. The RSS is the parent organization of all varieties of Indian Hindu extremism. All leaders of the ruling BJP have a link to RSS. Usually BJP members are also members of the RSS or one of its 35 branches. The BJP provides direct political support to the militant wings of Hindu nationalism, also known as Hindutva, across the country. The Chief Minister (comparable to a German Prime Minister) of Jharkhand State, Raghubar Das, Adityanath as Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Manohar Lal Khattar as Chief Minister of Haryana, Rajnath Singh as Defense Minister of India and other ministers of the BJP have spoken out publicly against Christians and other minorities pronounced. With the BJP in power, extremist Hindus feel empowered to persecute Christians with practically impunity. Government Officials: Prime Minister Modi's government, biased government officials and Hindu extremists (such as family members or RSS organizations) are major actors in the persecution of Christians. After Modi and the BJP came to power in May 2014, a combination of different forces developed: the RSS extremists, the media and government-controlled officials who fight together against the Christian faith. This power connection is primarily responsible for the increasing hostility towards Christians. Ethnic leaders: These leaders usually put pressure on Christians for abandoning the ancestral culture and offending the religion of the family and social circle, i.e. Hinduism. Family members: Close relatives of Christian converts will regard a turn to the Christian faith as a shame for the family and act accordingly. page 6
Based on Ethnic-Religious Hostility Ethnic-religious hostility is strongly influenced by religiously motivated nationalism. Both drivers of persecution are thus closely interwoven. Ethnic Leader: Most of the ethnic groups in India are traditionally Hindus. They will resolutely oppose any Christian presence in their midst. Non-Christian Religious Leaders: Hindu leaders are generally hostile to anything Christian in their communities. Violent religious groups: Militant Hindu groups at the local level vehemently oppose any Christian presence in their areas of influence. Ordinary Citizens: Native tribesmen are traditionally Hindus. Not infrequently they form mobs to attack the Christians in their villages. They believe that no one should abandon the ancestral beliefs. Family members: Local indigenous families strongly oppose turning to the Christian faith. They believe that no one should abandon the ancestral beliefs. Government Officials: Regional government officials oppose Christians. They do not consider them to belong to their ethnic group, whose culture is traditionally Hindu. There is a close connection to religiously motivated nationalism. Based on dictatorial paranoia Dictatorial paranoia is particularly influenced by religiously motivated nationalism. Both drivers of persecution are closely interwoven. Political Parties: The BJP is excellent at using modern technology and social media to achieve its goals. They also know how to forge messages to fight their opponents. According to statements made by an extremist Hindu leader in December 2014, it is hoped that Islam and Christianity will be ousted from India by 2021. Government Officials: Regional government officials oppose Christians in states and regions controlled by extremist Hindus. Ethnic Leaders: In most states and regions, Hindus rule the authorities and oppose Christians. Non-Christian Religious Leaders: Native Hindu leaders strongly support the government's anti-Christian policies. Violent Religious Groups: Hindu extremist groups such as the RSS and Virat Hindustan Sangam are hostile to Christians. Ordinary Citizens: Hindu mobs support the BJP government. They have been encouraged to step up their attacks on Christians as they remain more or less unpunished. Page 7
Assuming repression by clan / tribe government officials: Regional council assemblies and police officers side with the tribal group. This means that Christians can often face resistance. Ethnic Leaders: Some tribal leaders strongly oppose the main religions in India. This applies not only to the Christian faith and Islam, but sometimes also to Hinduism, especially where extremist Hindus have put pressure on the tribesmen to accept Hinduism. This leads to conflict. Ordinary Citizens: Tribe members do everything they can to protect their own culture and do not want to accept the Christian faith. This leads to violence. Family members: Indigenous families do not tolerate a change of belief by a member of their traditional religion. This can lead to house arrest and violence against Christian converts.Violent Religious Groups: Tribes may have their own ancestral beliefs or have adopted Hinduism (especially under pressure from Hindu extremists). Militant ethnic groups are hostile to Christians. Non-Christian Religious Leaders: Hindu extremists pressure tribal groups to adopt Hinduism as a given religion and attack members of other religions. (The pressure of the ethnic groups on Christians is often much less.) 6. Regional hotspots of persecution In India there are no special hot spots for violations of religious freedom. The worst hit areas are the states where the BJP forms government. However, this may change every five years due to the elections. Current examples of such states are Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Odisha and Uttar Pradesh. 7. Affected Christians Foreign Christians and Migrant Workers There are several groups of foreign Christians in India. They not only include Christians from the western world who live in India and have their own parishes, but also refugees. An example is an Afghan community gathering in New Delhi. These types of communities rarely attract the wrath of extremist Hindus. There are two reasons for this: on the one hand, they have a very homogeneous ethnic composition, on the other hand, these communities are usually not very active in passing on the gospel to Indians. page 8
Christians from traditional churches Examples of this are Christians from Roman Catholic, Orthodox and Anglican churches. These communities testify that Christians have been present in India for many centuries. The Orthodox Mar Thoma Church, for example, dates from the 3rd century. These churches grow only slowly because they hardly address outsiders, but mainly operate within their communities. Even so, this group of Christians is sometimes attacked by extremist Hindus by devastating churches and destroying religious statues and crosses. The traditional churches in India often own significant assets and property. They also own some of the best educational and medical institutes and large lots. The Indian Constitution provides Christians with special means to establish and manage their own educational centers. The government under Prime Minister Modi has made attempts to deprive them of the right to manage their institutes. These institutes are vital to the educational growth of Christian minorities and other disadvantaged populations. In many cities, government agencies have already claimed this for themselves. Christians of Other Religious Origin (Converts) Christians of Hindu origin are the ones who suffer most from persecution in India. These Christians are harassed daily and are under constant pressure to return to Hinduism. They are often attacked massively and physically so that they have to be hospitalized, and sometimes even killed. They mostly live in rural areas, where they are exposed to pressure from family and friends, those around them, local Hindu clergy and Hindu extremists. Christians of other religious origins (former Muslims, Buddhists or Sikhs) also experience pressure from their social environment; however, their number is significantly smaller. Christians with a Muslim background only face violence, intolerance and discrimination where Muslims make up a large part of the population. Christians from Protestant Free Churches After Christians of Hindu origin, Christians from free churches (such as Baptist, Evangelical or Pentecostal churches) are the second most important goal of Hindu extremists, as they actively pass on the Gospel. You are regularly exposed to attacks. Page 9
8. Areas of life affected and occurrence of violence Graphic: Patterns of persecution India The sum of the scores for all six areas (the maximum number of points is 16.7 each) gives the total number of points and thus the placement on the world persecution index. The persecution pattern shows the extent of pressure and violence caused by the interaction of the driving forces. The persecution pattern shows: The average pressure on Christians is very high (13.6 points) and has not changed compared to the previous year. The oppression of Christians (especially of Hindu origin) by Hindus can be felt at all levels of society, from the personal to the state and church level. Christians experience constant opposition to change of faith and baptism. Anti-conversion laws have been introduced in at least nine states. Worshipers are threatened and their meetings are very often disrupted. Although all areas of life have at least a very high level of pressure, the highest pressure is found in the area of life in the state. Christians are experiencing increasing restrictions in this area: More and more states are considering introducing anti-conversion laws to prevent people from turning to another faith through alleged violence or bait; The media are increasingly negative about Christians and impunity for militant Hindus has increased even further. The value for the occurrence of violence rose from 14.8 points to 15.4 points. Of the twelve categories according to which the occurrence of violence is analyzed, most achieve the maximum number of points. Physical violence page 10
and attacks on Christian gatherings are two of the most common forms of persecution in India. For each area of life examined, four of the most highly rated questions of the questionnaire that is filled out to create the World Persecution Index are listed below, as well as findings from their responses. The complete questionnaire can be found at: www.opendoors.de/methodik Privatleben Was it risky for Christians to talk about their faith with family members who do not belong to the closest circle (extended family, others)? Talking about the Christian faith with others outside of one's own family is widely viewed as a form of evangelism. This creates problems for both Hindu Christians and Protestants. Intolerance, on the other hand, has grown over the past five years. This hostility towards Christians who speak of their faith has increased because of Hindu extremism. Was it risky for Christians to practice their faith on a personal level (e.g. prayer, reading the Bible, etc.)? So far, Christians have only experienced problems during their own prayer times in their social circle. Hindu Christians in particular had to be careful about how they prayed in their parents' home. In the past five years, however, sentiment against apparently Christian behavior in India has increased. Protestant Christians are also monitored on suspicion of evangelism. Control is no longer limited to rural areas. With the exception of two or three states in the northeast of the country, it is risky to be seen praying anywhere in India. Was it risky for Christians to personally express their faith in writing (also on blogs or Facebook etc.)? To profess the Christian faith is equivalent to evangelism in the eyes of Hindu extremists. They also react aggressively to any Christian content posted on social media. Initially only Christians of Hindu origin were the target of the attacks, but now all Christians have to reckon with them. Was a change of religion (including a change of denomination within Christianity) rejected, prohibited or punished? The change of belief is currently one of the biggest points of attack that extremist Hindus use against Christians in India. They attack pastors, church leaders and their congregations on charges of forced conversion. Allegations of change of faith usually lead to physical violence. Christians are then taken to the local police station and detained there. In nine of 28 page 11
States have anti-conversion laws: in Arunachal Pradesh, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand and Uttarakhand. Rumor has it that Hindu extremists are planning to introduce similar anti-conversion laws at the federal level. So far, however, these efforts have not produced any tangible results. Further signs of the importance of combating religious change are the large-scale Ghar Wapsi return campaigns organized by extremist Hindus all over India, and the impossibility of foreign Christians to obtain a missionary visa. Family life Have Christian couples been prevented from adopting children or foster children because of their faith? Although in 2015 the Indian Supreme Court strengthened the Juvenile Justice Act, which allows the adoption of Hindu children by non-Hindu parents, it is still extremely difficult (if not impossible) for Christians to adopt children. The procedures to prevent Christian adoptions are sometimes deliberately complicated. Members of the committees that decide on adoptions are sometimes very biased towards Christians. Although the Youth Protection Act seemed to promise an improvement for Christians, it has not yet achieved this. Have Christian children been pressured to take part in anti-Christian or majority-religious classes at any level of education? Christian children are forced to take part in Hindu parts of the class, even in Christian schools. Examples include classes in Hindu mythology, yoga classes, and Hindu literature. State schools go much further and require that Christian children take part in Hindu festivities and rituals. Have Christian Baptisms Been Obstructed? Due to the high pressure from extremist Hindus, Christians in India try to hold baptisms as inconspicuously as possible. Baptism is considered the ultimate sign of having given up Hinduism in favor of the Christian faith. This also applies to pastors. Performing baptisms of converts is fraught with worry for them because of the possible consequences. Even traditional churches fear the reactions of government officials and police officers to baptisms. For this reason, baptisms in the open air are considered too risky. page 12
Have Christian children been harassed or discriminated against because of their parents' beliefs? Children of Christians are increasingly disadvantaged and (physically) harassed in their social environment. This is due to a growing influence of Hindu extremism. This leads ordinary citizens to believe that Christians do not belong to the community. Children of Christians of Hindu origin are particularly affected, but so are children of Christians of other categories. Social life Were Christians monitored by their social circle or by private groups (including reporting to the police, shadowing, tapping phone lines, reading / censoring emails, etc.)? Monitoring of Christians and their activities has increased over the past five years. This is done by the authorities, but also by a large number of Hindu extremist organizations (Bajrang Dal, Hindu Yuva Vahini, Shiv Sena, Vishva Hindu Parishad and others). The aim is to prevent any form of evangelism. Have Christians been harassed, threatened or hindered in everyday life for religious reasons (e.g. because they do not adhere to the dress codes prescribed by the majority religion or tradition, etc.)? Over the past five years, incidents of harassment, threat and nuisance at the local level have increased to record levels. Hostility towards Christians has become a serious problem in India. Have Christians been pressured by those around them to renounce their faith? The social environment puts Christians under pressure to (again) accept the Hindu faith. Return campaigns are being organized by extremist Hindus. Have Christians been prevented from using public resources (e.g. clean drinking water) because of their beliefs? Numerous incidents of social discrimination are reported. For example, Christians were denied water and other communal resources such as pasture land. They are excluded from the social life of the village community and are sometimes forced to flee their homes. Page 13
Living in the state Does the constitution (or comparable national or state laws) restrict religious freedom based on the formulation in Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights? Nine of the 28 states have anti-conversion laws: Arunachal Pradesh, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, and Uttarakhand. Such a law was passed in Tamil Nadu, but was later repealed. These laws regulate and restrict religious freedom. Article 25 of the Indian Constitution, which grants freedom of religion, is governed by public order, which, however, has not been further defined. The Article 25 clause gives the state permission to pass laws restricting religious freedom. Have Christian civil society organizations or political parties been hindered or banned in their work because of their Christian beliefs? Hindu extremists have in the past five years increasingly restricted opportunities for Christians to participate in such organizations or political parties. Christian political parties are still a short-term, uninfluential phenomenon. Christian organizations that receive funds from abroad have always been restricted by the foreign exchange law because they are assumed to be involved in proselytizing or otherwise advocating the Christian faith. Many Christian groups and organizations have received requests from the authorities to provide details of their activities, including the names of all staff members and those who have worked with them. Some schools run by religious minorities have been asked to provide the names of Christian students. Was the media coverage false or biased against Christians? The Indian media (especially those that publish in Indian dialects) tend to be very biased towards Christians. In rural areas they are hostile; Hate speech and propaganda by Hindu extremists are given a lot of space. Have Christians been the subject of smear campaigns or hate speech? Hindu extremists have been turning against Muslims and Christians since the 1990s. As mentioned above, some leading Hindu extremists had a stated goal in 2014 to have Islam and Christianity ousted from India by 2021. That would mean displacing around 250 million people from India. This is an extreme point of view and unrealistic; however, the fact is that most Hindu leaders tend to make sweeping statements against both Muslims and Christians. Further examples of hate speech can regularly be found in statements from extremist Hindu leaders such as Yogi Adityanath, Mohan Bhagwat, Praveen Togadia, Vinay Katiyar, Sadhvi Prachi, Sakshi Maharaj, Indresh Kumar, Suresh Chahvan; some important politicians of the page 14
Governments such as Rajnath Singh (Defense Minister of India), Giriraj Singh, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi (Minister for Minorities) are also openly involved. They regularly blame Christians for converting Hindus to the Christian faith. Church life Have church activities been monitored, hindered, disrupted or blocked? The state continuously monitors Christian activities and has imposed many restrictions (e.g. on funding from abroad, inviting foreign missionaries, difficulties with registration, anti-conversion laws, blasphemy laws, and the like). Hindu extremist crackdowns against Christians - there have been many incidents of Hindu mobs robbing Christians, beating Christians, arranging arrests, and ordering Christians to leave their homes. Since extremist Hindus can usually commit these crimes with impunity, fear is increasing among Christians. Has published sermon and / or teaching material been monitored? Extremist Hindus and the local authorities closely monitor all Christian materials (including digital media on the Internet). Evangelists and Christian workers are also constantly monitored. Have churches been hindered in their interaction with the global church (receiving foreign guests, visiting Christians in other countries, participating in conferences, etc.)? The central government in New Delhi has issued very strict regulations to effectively prevent foreign missionaries from entering India: They need a special visa, which is almost impossible to obtain. Foreign visitors, including tourists, are severely restricted and must sign a statement stating that they will not preach or encourage others to change their faith.Many Christians who come from abroad and are in India on a work visa are expelled from the country because they are members of churches or Christian groups in India. In the current reporting period it could have been more than 100. This problem also affects foreigners of Indian descent. Was it risky for churches or Christian organizations to verbally defend themselves against instigators of persecution? The dangers for Christians if they speak out against their persecutors have increased enormously in the past five years. Hindu extremists are encouraged by the government's inaction and believe they can commit crimes with impunity. Death threats, the dissemination of personal data and attacks on the families of Christians are increasing on social media. If a Christian tries to defend himself against extremist Hindus or partisan courts, that gives the Hindu attackers all the more reason to intensify their attacks. Page 15
Incidence of violence The following applies to the 2021 World Tracking Index reporting period: Christians killed: Twelve Christians were killed during the reporting period. Attacks on churches and religious properties: The number of churches and properties damaged, confiscated or destroyed has more than doubled compared to the previous year and now stands at 76. Christians arrested: At least 72 cases have been reported of Christians because of their beliefs were arrested. In the previous year there were three times as many cases. Convicted Christians: In November 2019, the Supreme Court of India decided to bail the last five of the seven Christians falsely sentenced to life imprisonment following the murder of the Hindu Swami Laxamananda Saraswati in 2008. Kidnapped Christians: At least two Christians were kidnapped. Compared to the same period in the previous year, the number has decreased significantly. Sexually harassed Christians: At least 15 Christian women have been victims of rape, attempted rape, or have received targeted beating on their sexual organs. One victim was raped and murdered. Because the number of such cases has decreased compared to the previous year, the number of points in this category has also decreased slightly in the current reporting period. Forced marriage: At least two Christian women were forced by their families to marry a Hindu. These families refused to have their daughters turn to the Christian faith. Attacks on Christians: 366 cases of physical abuse (including death threats) were reported, affecting around 1,500 Christians directly. Compared to the previous year, the number of cases increased in the current reporting period. Damage to Christian homes and / or property: 45 Christian homes or properties were damaged. This roughly corresponds to the number of the previous year. Damage to shops / businesses: Four shops were damaged. The number of such attacks has decreased compared to the previous year. Christians evicted from their homes: More than 59 incidents have been recorded in which people have been forced to leave their homes or villages. More than 422 people emigrated for security reasons. Page 16
9. Persecution of Other Religious Groups The US State Department's 2019 International Religious Freedom Report says: There have been reports of religiously motivated murders, assaults, riots, discrimination, vandalism, and activities that limit the right of individuals to practice their religious beliefs and about to speak to them. According to the Indian Ministry of the Interior, 7,484 incidents of community violence took place between 2008 and 2017, in which more than 1,100 people were killed. Home Office data for 2018 and 2019 are not available, but incidents of community violence are reported throughout the year. On June 18, a mob in Jharkhand killed the Muslim Tabrez Ansari after they had forced him to profess a Hindu god. The non-governmental organization Human Rights Watch (HRW) found that through 2019, Hindu groups characterized as extremist, some of whom the HRW said had ties to BJP supporters, continued mob violence against minorities, particularly Muslims. Among other things, they used rumors that these people traded cattle or killed them to eat. Between 2010 and the first half of 2019, there were 123 incidents of cow violence, with Muslims making up half of the victims, according to the non-governmental organization Hate Crime Watch. Lower-cast Hindus were also victims of vigilante justice on the basis of such accusations. Hate Crime Watch reported ten vigilante attacks that killed one person between January and June. On April 10, Prakash Lakda from Jurmu Village, Jharkhand was killed by a mob and three other people were seriously injured. Allegedly he cut up a dead ox. All four victims were Christians and former tribal members. According to media reports, three indigenous Christians were beaten by people from Suari village in Khunti district in Jharkhand on September 22nd. They suspected her of selling beef in the village market. One died in the hospital while the other two suffered serious injuries. Media reported that local police arrested several people after the attack. Amnesty International recorded 72 incidents of mob violence in October, 37 of which were directed against Muslims. Amnesty International recorded a total of 181 suspected hate crimes in the first half of the year. In the same period in 2018 there were 100. Further information Hindu extremists have described both Islam and Christianity as foreign religions that should be driven out of the country if possible. Therefore, the Muslim minority is persecuted in a similar way to the Christian one. Buddhists and Sikhs are more acceptable to Hindu extremists as these religions originated in Indian territory. Page 17
Examples of Religious Freedom Violations: On Monday December 9, 2019, India's Lok Sabha (the House of Commons) passed the Citizenship Amendment Bill 2019 (CAB). This law grants citizenship to religious minorities from neighboring countries. But Muslims are controversially excluded. Cedric Prakash, a Jesuit priest and human rights activist in India, said: This government move is another nail in the coffin of the Indian constitution and our democratic framework. By granting citizenship to all undocumented people except those of Muslim faith, this law risks tearing the country apart, reopening unhealed wounds of separation, and ultimately destroying the secular and democratic principles of our venerated constitution. Millions of people across the country are already protesting against it. The law must be revoked immediately. It shouldn't be passed in the House of Lords. An independent investigation into the attacks on Muslims by Hindu mobs in Delhi in February 2020 found that the police were complicit and even aiding and abetting the violence. The attacks came after weeks of peaceful protests against the Indian government's discriminatory citizenship policy. According to witnesses, police officers refused to help, saying they had no orders to act. The northern Indian state of Haryana has laws to protect cows. On July 31, 2020, on the eve of the Islamic Festival of Sacrifice, Hindutva cow guards attacked a Muslim suspected of having transported beef. Police officers and spectators did not intervene. 10. Prayer Requests Please pray for India: Thank God that many Indians come to believe in Christ through miraculous healings and the courageous testimony of Indian Christians. Pray that this development will continue and that many more people will get to know Jesus. Ask for protection for Christians, especially those who have newly come to believe in Jesus Christ or who live in rural areas and are therefore particularly isolated. Pray that their families and social circles will accept their new faith. Ask God that through Open Doors partners He will continue to provide practical support and encouragement to those in need of help most. Pray for wisdom and strength for the Open Doors partners and ask God to protect them as they do this vital work, especially during the pandemic. Page 18
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