Christians in India facing a wave of violence from Hindu extremists have appealed to the nation’s Supreme Court for justice.
A public petition submitted today demands that the government in Delhi prevents what it calls the "sinister phenomena of violence" and "targeted hate speech" against India’s Christian community.
The petition was originally filed in June 2022 and has been presented by The Archbishop of Bangalore Diocese Dr Peter Machado, along with the Evangelical Fellowship of India. It highlights a large increase in attacks and mob violence against Christians in recent years.
They also claim that the fast-rising violence is in-part due to a failure to take action against groups propagating violence and incitements to violence.
“Open Doors is deeply troubled by the lack of concrete steps being taken by authorities to address these violations”, Henrietta Blyth, the CEO of Open Doors UK & Ireland commented.
“This fosters a climate of impunity for the perpetrators and creates an environment where religious minorities live in fear of further violence. “
The plea reaches India’s highest court as recorded violence against Christians in India has risen sharply. According to data compiled for Open Doors World Watch List, which ranks persecution and discrimination against Christians, there have been 17 religiously motivated killings of Christians recorded, reports of physical abuse (including death threats), have directly affected over 75,000 Christians, and 67 churches or Christian buildings have been forcibly closed.
Henrietta Blyth welcomed the news that the Supreme Court case is finally being heard:
“Considering the vulnerable situation Christians in India face, either from mob attacks or lack of protection by authorities, an independent judiciary is their beacon of hope to seek protection.”
Eight Indian states have been charged with providing information about the number of reports of offences against Christians logged by police and how these have been dealt with. However, Open Doors say that so far, only one of the states has returned the required information.
Since the ruling party came to power in 2014, there has been an increase in violent attacks on Christians: these include so-called “honour” killings, acid throwing, beatings by mobs and sex assaults on young girls.
According to Open Doors, police arrest Christians under the pretext of enforcing anti-conversion laws and mistreat those who have been imprisoned. They say that Christians are often falsely accused of forcibly converting Hindus.
A number of videos of mob attacks have circulated, shared both by the Christian minorities and militants perpetrating the violence.
India’s Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, is quoted as refuting these claims, declaring that there have been no targeted attacks on Christians in the country, stating that “(looking at) half-baked and self-serving facts and self-serving articles and reports … based upon mere conjectures - clearly appears to be for an oblique purpose.”