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World News

Charity says dramatic surge in attacks of Christians in India is 'deeply concerning'

by Tola Mbakwe

Release International said since Hindu nationalists gained power in India three years ago, violence against Christians has escalated.

Paul Robinson, the Chief Executive of Release International said: "In states across India, militants have threatened and killed church workers.

"Extremists have tried to force Christians to renounce their faith and convert to Hinduism. And they have bombed, torched, vandalised and demolished churches."

The government has also introduced anti-conversion laws in five states and aim to make it a nation-wide law.

Spokesman for the charity, Andrew Boyd, told Premier's News Hour about the law. He explained it's linked to the notion of right wing Hinduism in India and the belief that if you are Indian then you have to be Hindu.

He said: "It's based on the idea that conversion by force should be made illegal. I think everyone would agree that conversion by force would be useless.

"But actually if you preach about Heaven then it's considered to be bribery, if you speak about Hell then it's considered to be a threat. If you offer any kind of Christian charity then it's regarded also as bribery."

The charity said the Dalit community are among the most targeted Christians in India. The Dalits are the underclass who fall outside the Indian caste system and are assigned the most menial jobs in society.

Boyd said: "These people are converting to Christianity and quite large numbers of them are converting because they're finding acceptance and dignity and worth and that is provoking quite a backlash."

The All India Christian Council recorded 108 incidents in the first six months alone of 2016.

A separate report by the Evangelical Fellowship of India logged more attacks against Christians in India in 2016 than in the two previous years put together.

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