News India | 19-5-2024

Christian persecution escalating all over India as elections continue


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Christians in many parts of India are witnessing a significant rise in persecution as elections continue across the country. Incidents include physical assaults, arrests based on false allegations, forced ‘reconversion’ to Hinduism and attacks on Christian institutions.


"Incidents of persecution are reported every day. Christians are targeted all over India."

Priya Sharma, Open Doors partner
Priya Sharma*, a local Open Doors partner, notes that Christians are among the religious minorities who have been vocally targeted during election campaigning. “Political parties and leaders are giving hate speeches and provocative statements against each other and religious minorities,” she says. “We pray that individuals do not get carried away by the speeches of political leaders and parties, but cast their votes wisely for the betterment of the nation. And may India stand on the pillars of equality, non-discrimination and be a place of religious tolerance.” Nationwide elections started on 19 April and continue until 1 June.

Sharma continues, “Incidents of persecution are reported every day. Christians are targeted all over India. There is not a single state in India that is safe for Christians. Pastors and believers are attacked, threatened and arrested on false charges, while churches and Christian institutions are attacked or forced to close down. There is continuous hatred and discrimination against the Christian community.”

Central India: brutal attack and false arrest

After a violent attack, you’d hope the police would come to your assistance. For Pastor Ravi* and other believers in Central India, the opposite was true. They were brutally attacked by religious extremists because of their faith – and, instead of being helped by the authorities, they were then arrested. Pastor Ravi and members of his congregation had been falsely accused of forcing people to convert to Christianity.

After a month, the believers were released on bail. But that wasn’t the end of their ordeal. Religious extremists came in a mob to Ravi's village and threatened Christians there to stop following Jesus. If they didn’t, they would be ostracised by the rest of the community – and even denied access to water and electricity.

Local news reported that around 152 Christians from the village ‘reconverted’ to Hinduism in a ceremony known as ‘ghar wapsi’ or ‘homecoming’. Many believers held on to their faith, while others have fled the village with their families, to escape being forcibly ‘reconverted’. Local Christians report that the current situation is grim and strained. Ravi is under surveillance, yet he continues to visit the believers secretly, strengthening and praying with them.


"The church continues to need our prayer and support"

Rahul Singh, Open Doors partner
“Ghar wapsi (reconversion) is heartbreaking,” says Rahul Singh*, a local Open Doors partner. “In every village, extremists are indoctrinated with Hindutva ideology and trained to carry out reconversions. We are trying to reach out to the Christian community with persecution survival programmes and training. The church continues to need our prayer and support to stand firm in difficult and challenging times.”

In another incident in Madhya Pradesh, also in Central India, Pastor Ramesh* and his wife Reena* were returning home on their bike after conducting a prayer meeting. On the way, they were stopped by two Hindu extremists. As these extremists started abusing and threatening them, the pastor tried to leave when suddenly the extremists attacked Reena* from behind and fled. Reena sustained a serious head injury and a fracture in her sternum.

North India: threats turn to knife attack

In Punjab, Pastor Ramandeep* and his brother Amandeep* have been ministering in their community for the last 13 years. They had done this with minimal opposition for most of that time – but, for the past six months, they have continuously been threatened by extremists to stop the church ministry.

This developed into actual violence recently, when Amandeep was going to his work. Five or six extremists confronted him and attacked him with swords and knives. Ramandeep rushed to defend his brother, and was also attacked. Both men sustained several injuries to their hands.

They were immediately taken to a hospital for treatment. Although a complaint was made to the police, no action was taken against the attackers – this is often the case when Christians report violence. It’s just one of the rising number of attacks against the Christian community in Punjab.

South India: mob attack school

In Telangana, in South India, a huge mob attacked St Mother Teresa School, after a few students were questioned for attending classes in saffron clothes instead of a school uniform.

The clash originated in a misunderstanding: in mid-April, the headteacher noticed that some students had come to school in saffron-coloured clothing rather than the school uniform. They said it was part of observing a 41-day Hindu religious observance called ‘Hanuman deeksha’ – at which, the headteacher said they should have asked permission from school management in advance. A video quickly circulated on social media of a student accusing the headteacher of not permitting Hindu students to wear their religious dress.

These reports led to a violent reaction the next day that spiralled out of control. “False news was spread on social media, leading to over 500 people reaching the school,” a school correspondent told The Indian Express. “The attack on the school continued for nearly four hours and we suspect it was pre-planned.” 


"Schools are for imparting education and knowledge, not a playground for religious hatred."

Rahul Singh
The mob stormed the school and vandalised it, breaking windows and throwing stones at the school’s statue of Mother Teresa. They assaulted the school correspondent, slapping and punching him. They also staged a protest. The school management lodged a complaint against the attackers, but no arrests have yet been made. Meanwhile, parents complained against the school and a case has been registered against the school authorities for supposedly denying Hindu students to express their faith.

Rahul Singh shares, “This incident is very disheartening and shocking. Religious extremists want to defame Christian institutions and spoil their reputation in society. Schools are for imparting education and knowledge, not a playground for religious hatred and discrimination.”

Please keep praying for Indian Christians across the country – they need your prayerful support as they continue to face escalating persecution during this election season.

*Names changed for security reasons
please pray
  • For protection and encouragement for Ravi, Ramesh, Reena, Ramandeep, Amandeep and all who take risks to minister to and serve their communities
  • For local authorities to take threats and violence against Christians seriously, and take action to prosecute or deter persecutors
  • For peace and stability in India during the elections, and for Christians to be united.
please give
  • Every HK$280 can provide emergency food to 2 Indian believers affected by extreme persecution
  • Every HK$390 can train 20 believers and equip them with a biblical response to persecution
  • Every HK$640 can help a persecuted community establish a livelihood and give financial security
*Any excess funds will be used to strengthen other persecuted Christians where urgent help is needed.