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Human rights advocates raise alarm over persecution of Indian Christians amid Modi’s US visit

Human rights advocates are using the recent U.S. visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi as an opportunity to raise the alarm about the reported spike of persecution against Christians in India.

“What we are seeing in India is a religious freedom crisis,” Sean Nelson, legal counsel for Global Religious Freedom for ADF International, said in a statement. 

“Christians and other religious minorities are systemically targeted in India by radical Hindu nationalist mobs, who carry out widespread violence and harassment with impunity,” Nelson said. “No person should be persecuted, harassed, or killed for simply living out their faith.”

“The government of India should work to put an end to the violence and reform any laws that restrict freedom of religion and implicitly encourage such violence. President Biden and other world leaders should speak clearly about the deteriorating religious freedom conditions in India and encourage the Indian government to work to reverse this trend,” Nelson added.


President Biden and PM Modi

President Biden, right, talks with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he arrives at the White House for a private dinner, Wednesday, June 21, 2023, in Washington, D.C. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Reports of Christian persecution in India have escalated in recent years and reached the country’s Supreme Court last fall, which directed eight Indian states to verify the claims of Christian groups that filed a petition for protection.

The petition, which was filed by Archbishop Peter Machad, the National Solidarity Forum and the Evangelical Fellowship of India, noted approximately 500 reported attacks against Christians in 2021 and about 200 attacks during the first five months 2022.

The Christian groups pleaded for both a government investigation and for police to protect churches.

The Indian government dismissed such claims as based on “half-baked and self-serving facts and self-serving articles and reports… based upon mere conjecture,” and speculated on “some hidden oblique agenda” driving the petitioners, according to the Hindustan Times.


Christian nuns protesting in India.

Christian nuns wave placards as they march during a demonstration against the tabling of the Protection of Right to Freedom of Religion Bill on Dec. 22, 2021, in Bengaluru, India. (Abhishek Chinnappa/Getty Images)

The petition from Indian Christians came amid increased attacks against them from far-right Hindu groups as multiple Indian states have passed so-called “anti-conversion” laws. Such laws ostensibly aim to prevent forcible conversion from one religion to another, but critics claim they are being used to violate the freedom of religion guaranteed in the Indian Constitution.

Around 50 Christians, including 10 pastors, were attacked in an Indian village in Chhattisgarh State in May amid conversion accusations by the radical Hindu nationalist organization Bajrang Dal, according to Vatican News.

Tensions between Christians and Hindus flared last month when large-scale religious violence afflicted the Indian state of Manipur and left tens of thousands displaced, according to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.


Christians gather for Catholic Mass in Mumbai.

Christian devotees gather for a mass at Mount Mary Church on the eve of Mount Mary Fair, at Bandra, on Sept. 10, 2022, in Mumbai, India. (Vijay Bate/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

“In many cases, the mob has burned a church or house belonging to a Meitei Christian but has not damaged their neighbor’s door if they are not a Christian,” a human rights lawyer associated with ADF International said on condition of anonymity. “Christians are facing hostility by the Meiteis on the basis that they are Christians.”

“The people are deeply shocked. Through our work, we want to help stop the violence in Manipur, protect religious institutions, allow Christians to practice their faith freely and facilitate compensation for survivors,” the lawyer said.

Former Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback recently penned an article for the Christian Post blasting “the endless persecution of Christians in India.”

Fox News Digital reached out to the Indian Embassy in Washington D.C., but did not receive comment by time of publication.

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