Christian Persecution Spikes in Hindu-Nationalist India

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INDIA — Recovering mindfulness after attackers left him for dead in his house church in eastern India, pastor Basant Kumar Paul declared; he no longer fears persecution and is certain of his heavenly home.

Hindu extremists hit in the head with an ax 68-year-old Lakhpati Devi, the mother of pastor Basant Kumar Paul, in an attack on Paul’s home-based church Nov. 12 in Jharkhand, India. Morning Star News photo

Hindu extremists hit in the head with an ax 68-year-old Lakhpati Devi, the mother of pastor Basant Kumar Paul, in an attack on Paul’s home-based church Nov. 12 in Jharkhand, India. Morning Star News photo

“They tried to kill me twice, I was almost dead, but I still did not die. I will not die until the Lord calls me back home. This assurance drives away all my fears.”

“My physical body might be weak, but my spirit is very strong, it will not break with persecution,” Morning Star News quoted Paul Friday (Nov. 22).

Still recovering from the Nov. 12 attack on his instant and extended family in Jharkhand, India, Paul is among an estimated 65 million Christians facing increased persecution in the nation of 1.4 billion people.

Persecution is spiking under extreme right-wing Hindu nationalism stimulated by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), according to reports from across the Asian nation.

Christians in the former state of Jammu and Kashmir in northern India have grieved increased persecution since the BJP-led government revoked a 1949 law that allowed Jammu and Kashmir to form its own constitution, reported Morning Star and religious persecution watchdog groups including Open Doors and Voice of the Martyrs.

The new restrictions have further emboldened Hindutva extremists in personal attacks on Christians comprising only about one-quarter of a percent of the 12.5 million people in the former state.

New security measures issued as recently as Nov. 6 make it “nearly impossible” for Christian congregations to meet, Morning Star reported.

Gatherings of four or more people are now illegal in Jammu and Kashmir.

Nationwide, Christians were attacked in at least – 24 of India’s 29 states in a two-year period ending in July, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) — reported Nov.

In latest report its 14, “Persecuted and Forgotten?” which studied Christian persecution in India and 11 other countries.

Indian Christians were trampled, murdered and raped, with ACN calculating at least 117 incidents in the first quarter of 2019, 477 in 2018 and 440 in 2017.

“More than 100 churches closed in 2018, because of extremist attacks or intervention by authorities,” ACN — said in its report. “Not only has communal violence remained high, but the failure of authorities to address attacks on religious minorities has engendered a climate of impunity.”

Protesters flee police tear gas directed at Kashmiris protesting India’s revocation of Jammu and Kashmir state’s special status in August. Morning Star News photo

The government demolished a church-run school and hostel in Odisha State in eastern India As recently as May, displacing at least 100 — students who lived in the school hostel, ACN — reported. An extremist group complained to the government that the Christian school was evangelizing the students, which the headmaster denied.

Protesters flee police tear gas directed at Kashmiris protesting India’s revocation of Jammu and Kashmir state’s special status in August. Morning Star News photo
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