By Devin Watkins
Persecution Relief recently released its half-yearly report detailing acts of anti-Christian persecution in India.
The data bear out “a very grim picture” of religious freedom in the nation, according to the Christian ecumenical body.
“Hate crimes against Christians in India have risen by an alarming 40.87 percent,” the report said.
That increase came despite a complete nationwide lockdown that lasted three months to stem the spread of Covid-19 infections.
The watchdog group recorded 293 incidents of anti-Christian persecution in the first six months of the year.
Six of those cases resulted in murder. Two women were raped and killed for their faith, and another two women and a 10-year-old girl were raped for refusing to renounce Christianity.
Uttar Pradesh “remained the most hostile state against Christians in India,” noted the report. Sixty-three hate crimes were reported there.
Police threatened one pastor with jail for him and his family if he did not forsake Christianity, according to the Persecution Relief report.
The state of Tamil Nadu reported 28 cases, with a church building left burnt to the ground in June.
Tip of the iceberg
Shibu Thomas, founder of Persecution Relief, told UCA News that persecution against Christians has become increasingly common.
“The frightening and contagious crusade of religious nationalism and intolerance has now peaked at new inhuman altitudes," said Thomas.
He added that the data collected is only “the tip of the iceberg.”
“We could report only a fraction of the actual violence perpetrated against Christians in various states,” Thomas said.
“Many people do not report,” he pointed out, “fearing retribution from the tormentors and administrative machinery. Some cases in interior villages also go unreported because they are so cut off without electricity and phone connectivity.”
Hope in difficult situation
The report noted that the US Commission on International Religious Freedom recently added India to its list of countries of “Particular Concern”.
But, the Persecution Relief report said, “there is hope, as God’s eyes are upon this blessed nation and the Christian minority in India is on their knees praying for the current situation.”