A Fearful Xmas For Christians In India


“Mamta and Anita, Dalit sisters of Iroli Gurjar village in Mathura district of Uttar Pradesh wait in the district courts for their kin, and a Pastor, to be released on bail. The Pastor and five others were beaten up on 4th December when a mob entered Mamta’s house where a prayer was in progress, and stopped the prayers for the healing of her ill husband alleging it was a ruse to convert people”, says Dr John Dayal, a vociferous member of the All India Catholic Union (AICU) and the United Christian Forum (UCF).

Meanwhile, according to various news reports, the Hindu Jagran Manch in Uttar Pradesh, a state headed by the tantric Yogi Adityanath – a shape of things to come – has warned Christian schools against celebrating Christmas saying that it is a step towards forceful conversions.

In neighboring Madhya Pradesh, a Catholic carol group was attacked, beaten up and their van burnt by fundamentalist hoodlums. As here, the police arrested the victims who were later released on bail. The carol singing had been deemed to an act of forcible ad fraudulent conversion.

While Madhya Pradesh has a notorious anti conversion law, Uttar Pradesh does not. Both states are ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party. Incidents of Christians being threatened over Christmas celebrations are also coming in from other north Indian states. Christians not only in these states, but also in the entire cow belt where the BJP dominates will be celebrating Christmas with reduced freedom and in fear.

Such targeting of Christian minorities in India has been building up since 1999, when under the BJP led NDA government, over 45 tribal churches and prayer halls were burnt during the Christmas season and soon after, the Australian missionary Graham Staines and his two minor sons were burnt to death by a rabid Hindu extremist mob. The subsequent period saw increased attacks on Christians, which did not change even after the Congress headed UPA government’s 10 year stint – such is the extent to which right wing forces have raised false canards against Christians in the fascist effort to create enemies of the minorities to consolidate the Hindu vote. During the NDA I and the UPA I and II rule, an average of over 400 incidents of attacks on churches, pastors, priests and nuns were reported nationwide by the Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI). After summer of 2014, when the BJP came to power with a majority in the general elections, the targeting of Christians has taken very sinister proportions, which a complicit media fails to report and complicit Christian human rights and community organizations fail to voice at national and international fora.

According to Persecution Relief, “there have been more than 1000 cases in the past 2 years; more than 6 pastors martyred for their faith; 100’s of Churches attacked; more than 300 men, women and children beaten up; innumerable false cases of conversions registered where many men and women of God are lodged in jails; so many Churches and House Churches closed down by local government administration; Bibles and Christian Literature’s burnt, Churches vandalized and desecrated, registrations cancelled under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, International aid stopped alleging misuse of foreign funding for proselytization, Christian Orphanages and Schools closed down on dubious grounds –  to list a few of the incidents.

The BJP, in its effort to proselytize Hindutva by legitimizing it through the statements of community members, roped in Alphons Kannanthanam, a former bureaucrat to do its bidding by giving him an unimportant political post. NDA I did the same through its member of the National Commission for Minorities (NMC), John Joseph. Alphons subsequently started stating that PM Modi is ‘doing what any good Christian would do’ and that under the BJP there have been no attacks on Christians since 2014. Both the man and his statements were disowned by the church that he comes from –The Roman Catholic Church in Kerala.

Similarly, other Christian bodies in India, including those that were once highly respected internationally and are now in the gutters of compromise, self-preservation and self-interest, too have compromised with the BJP and have failed to stand up for the rights of Christians in India, even going as far as giving the BJP and its leaders a clean chit regarding its anti-Christian campaign, stating that the BJP is good for the future of India while all sane people can see that a fascist state that seeks to suppress and destroy the Christian faith is underway.

With the latest dubious victory of the BJP in the Gujarat polls after running an extensive communal campaign, the right wing will only be emboldened and its effort to enable the creation a Hindurashtra in which Christians have no equal place will shift into top gear and there will be more extensive targeting and suppression of Christians, more particularly in North India. This is even more obvious considering that the BJP is on the decline as seen in Gujarat and they will do everything possible to remain in power in the general elections in 2019.

Ironically, although the excesses of the BJP and its right wing cohorts regularly makes international headlines every other week, the West, especially the US and UK have failed to stand up to the government of India over its fascist violence as required under various international charters and agreements, even as the UN has failed to condemn the violence. For all practical purposes, the Christian community in India is left high and dry by the electorate and the international community to face the onslaught of fascist forces.

Oliver D’Souza is an award winning author and editor of Dalit Post.


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