Fifty religious leaders from the Christian and Muslim minorities in India met together last week to discuss the religious freedom challenges facing both groups under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government.
Christians are “facing physical, symbolic and structural violence” from Hindu extremists across the country, said Father Z. Devasagaya Raj at the conference in New Delhi on 5-6 Sep.
This view is backed up by the recent report from the Evangelical Fellowship of India’s Religious Liberty Commission, which recorded 134 attacks on Christians or their churches in the first half of 2016 – already almost as many as the annual totals for both 2014 and 2015.
Pointing out that the cases chronicled from 1 January to 30 June were just a “fraction of the violence on the ground” (only “carefully corroborated” incidents were included), the EFI report made several recommendations to Mr. Modi’s government, including the repeal of the controversial “anti-conversion laws”.
These laws – named “Freedom of Religion Acts” – are officially there to prevent religious conversions being made by “force”, “fraud” or “allurement”. But Christians and rights groups say that in reality the laws obstruct conversions generally, as Hindu nationalists invoke them to harass Christians with spurious arrests and incarcerations. Such laws are currently in force in five states – Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh – although they have been discussed in several others, such as in Maharashtra last year.
This article continues at [World Watch Monitor] What next for India’s beleaguered Christian minority?