Leading up to and during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Washington DC in June, Jubilee Campaign helped bring attention to the India’s widespread religious freedom violations. Our staff volunteered alongside the Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations (FIACONA) to provide an information booth on the continuous persecution that Christians face in India. This booth informed the general public and staffers in Washington of the abuse that is occurring under Modi’s rule.
Eighty percent of India’s population is Hindu, but it also has a large Muslim minority and smaller minorities of Christians and Sikhs. Modi is the head of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is a right-wing political party known for promoting the ideology of “Hinduness.” An environment of intolerance for religious minorities has recently risen under the rule of Modi. There has been a growing number of attacks on Christians from Hindu extremist groups and widespread discrimination from the authorities of local governments.
Protests erupted marking Modi’s 100th and 300th day in office, in which protesters brought attention to the alarming treatment minorities have faced during Modi’s rule. During the protest marking 300 days, which was called “300 DAYS – Documenting Hate and Communal Violence under the Modi Regime,” Christian activists presented a list of 168 incidents of violence and harassment that had occurred against Christians in the past 300 days. They estimated that the list provided only about a tenth of the incidents that had actually occurred. They also shared a large amount of incidents that had victimized Muslims.
Now over a year after the protest of 300 days, the conditions in India have not improved. Jubilee Campaign receives reports on almost a weekly basis of horrendous attacks against Christians. Last week, Hindu extremists attacked an entire Christian village burning the residents’ homes and severely beating them as they ran the Christians out of town.They did this because they felt their gods were mad at them for having Christian neighbors.
There have also been campaigns lead by BJP members of ghar wapsi (“homecoming”), which is an effort to re-convert minority members back to Hinduism. Victims face threats and violence if they resist the forced conversion.
Ironically, Modi has allowed for many states in India to pass laws protecting against forced conversions. The issue with these laws is that they have not been used to stop people from being forced back to Hinduism, such as occurs in the ghar wapsi, but instead have many times been used as a mechanism to target the activities of Christians. There have been various reports of Christians who are arrested for sharing their faith, even though they are not forcing anyone to accept it.
It is clear that Modi’s rule needs major reform. If the intolerant atmosphere against minorities continues, there will be devastating effects on the Christian population and others who do not adhere to the Hindu majority. So far, Modi has been a threat to the large diverse democracy that India is supposed to represent, and Indian Christians and organizations around the world are crying out for Modi to put a stop to the persecution against minorities.