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Guess Where Christians Face Some Of The Worst Persecution In The World Today





The Catholic Archbishop of Delhi has sent a letter to all parish priests working in India's capital city.

In the letter dated May 8, 2018, Archbishop Anil Couto requested parish priests to start a year-long prayer campaign to save India from the "turbulent political atmosphere", which "poses a threat to the democratic principles enshrined in our constitution and the secular fabric of our nation".

BJP and RSS luminaries have bristled in response. It is interesting to see Hindutva circles treat the letter as an attack on the government. The letter does not mention the BJP nor does it mention the current government. The only thing the letter does talk about is the "turbulent political atmosphere" in the country.


The archbishop's letter was not the only statement that has been issued by concerned Indian Christians in the past month. Barely a week after Archbishop Couto's letter became public, the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC)  put out a statement condemning the appointment of a known RSS man - Kummanam Rajasekharan - as a governor of Mizoram, which is a Christian-dominated state.

"Christians in Mizoram in particular, and those of the country in general, feel disturbed and very much let down after the appointment of a hardcore Hindutva fundamentalist as the new Governor of Mizoram where 87 percent of people are Christians," the Council said. The organisation also alleged that Rajasekharan's appointment was "a deliberate move" to create disharmony in a state "that has won awards in the last few years for being the most peaceful state in the country".

There are now fears that both the archbishop's letter and the GCIC's statement could be used by the BJP to further polarise Hindus in forthcoming elections in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh. In the past, BJP officials presented such letters and statements as evidence of an international conspiracy against a party that defends Hindu interests.

Last November, prior to the Gujarat state assembly elections, Archbishop Thomas Macwan of the Archdiocese of Gandhinagar issued a letter calling parish priests to organise prayer sessions to help people "who would remain faithful to the Indian constitution" get elected. BJP treated the letter as a call to vote against it, and a BJP leader even called for the archbishop's arrest for "inciting religious hatred".

In India, participation in politics of Hindu so-called god-men and -women is seen as normal, but when Muslim or Christian or Sikh religious personalities speak on politics, they are accused of dividing people. The Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh is the head of an old and very powerful Gorakhnath Math (temple) in Gorakhpur. There are ministers and members of parliament who themselves claim to be godmen and women and yet are seen as fit for office within the secular polity of India.


The letter of Archbishop Cauto needs to be seen in the context of the growing anxiety and unrest religious minority communities of India have been feeling.

In a column for the Times of India, Julio Ribeiro a retired police commissioner and well-respected Christian public figure voiced the concerns of many when he wrote: "I should be prepared for second class citizenship that denies top jobs like that of a judge in the Supreme Court, a governor of a state, the chief of defence staff or the intelligence bureau. What I will not accept is being accused falsely of being anti-national and pilloried on that count."

[EDITOR: Ah! Mr Ribeiro appears to have finally found God! He seems to have forgotten his own central role in spearheading the persecution of minorities in India (and creating its template) when he led, as Punjab’s Director General of Police in the 1980s, the Genocide of Sikhs; he was one of the key men behind the extra-judicial murders of tens of thousands of Sikh young men.

In this year's Open Door World Watch List, which ranks the 50 countries in which Christians face the worst persecution for practising their faith, India came 11th. The country was ranked 31st in the same list only five years ago. According to the United Christian Forum (UCF), more than 700 cases of attacks on Christians across India were reported to their toll-free helpline number between 2014 and 2017.

The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a Christian NGO, publishes a periodical report on the cases of discrimination or attacks against Christians in India. In its 2017 report, the organisation said: "According to a statement made by the Government in the Indian Parliament on the 7th of Feb. 2017 over the last three years, over 278 persons have been killed, and over 6,500 people were injured due to communal violence in over 2000 incidents".

According to the ADF, discriminatory incidents and hate crimes experienced by Christians in India include cases of Ghar Wapsi (religious conversion activities), refusal to grant permission to establish and run places of worship, false accusations of forceful and fraudulent religious conversions, physical and verbal assaults on church pastors and members, false and divisive propaganda, damage, desecration and arson of places of worship, disruption of prayer services and restrictions on religious gatherings.

Moreover, BJP leaders and ministers regularly invoke anti-Muslim and anti-Christian symbolism to garner Hindu support. Representatives of the ruling party repeatedly talk about Muslims outnumbering Hindus in India or Christian missionaries luring poor people to their fold through their educational institutions. After creating sufficient fear within Hindu communities, they suggest that they can be the voice and protector of Hindus in India.

In his public addresses, Prime Minister Narendra Modi very cleverly uses a language that derides and mocks minorities and presents the Congress and other political parties in India as anti-Hindu forces. In the recently concluded and much discussed parliamentary by-election at Kairana, Uttar Pradesh, BJP representatives used a similar "us vs them" discourse, pitting Hindus against Muslims to garner votes.

Many members of minority communities in India, as well as many secular Indians, believe that if the BJP wins next year's general election, the subversion of the institutionally secular character of India would be complete.

This is why opposition parties are keeping their ideological differences aside and trying to forge a grand alliance. The letter of the archbishop needs to be read and judged in this context.

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The author teaches Hindi at the University of Delhi, and writes literary and cultural criticism.

Edited for
June 13, 2018


Conversation about this article

1: Harnam Kaur (Chandigarh, Punjab), June 13, 2018, 11:48 AM.

Mr Ribeiro was rewarded for his crimes against humanity with an ambassadorship. And now he wants more payback? So that his buddies can be appointed as judges, governors, etc? Well, Mr Ribeiro, all I know is that Christendom has a hell waiting for you, and it is specially designed for mass-muderers such as you. I guess you've already seen the writing on the wall ...

2: GJ Singh (Arizona, USA), June 14, 2018, 1:35 AM.

Not to gloat, but looks like Karma has come back to bite Ribeiro and his supporters in the ass! Being a fanatic that once he was, I hope he is paid back in kind by the fanatics he so encouraged to commit those heinous crimes on the Sikhs!

3: M Kaur (Canada), June 15, 2018, 3:20 PM.

See, there is a God!

4: Sunny Grewal (Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada), June 17, 2018, 6:49 PM.

No one should be persecuted for their faith. But let's face it, Christians are trying to wipe out Sikhism in Punjab. That is a fact.

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