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Christians in procession in Jharkhand state, India © Aid to the Church in Need
World News

Christians in India told to 'go back to where we came from'

by Cara Bentley

He told religious freedom charity Aid to the Church in Need that: "Christians are living mostly in fear at present - much more in the north, where they are a minority."

Bishop Kujur's Catholic diocese covers part of Odisha state (formerly Orissa), where an anti-Christian program in 2008 left 100 or more dead, 50,000 homeless, with attacks on 4,500 houses and 250 churches.

The bishop said his safety would be put at risk if he released key details about the oppression and persecution suffered by Christians and other minorities but said: "Since 2002, there have been problems.

"There is a fear about how the government will react now the right wing has taken over. We have apprehensions it will not go well for the Christians."

The elections earlier this year (which in India lasts several weeks) delivered a majority for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) with 303 seats.

Violence against Christians has been occurring before this election though, with 477 anti-Christian incidents in India in 2018, according to a US-based charity Persecution Relief, up from 440 in 2017.

Bishop Kujur said: "A lot of people don't know what is happening to Christians in India. Christians are seen as foreigners and as not belonging to India. We are told to go back to where we came from.

"Christians are not in Modi's good books. They are seen as converting the others to Christianity which the government does not want."

Bishop Kujur stressed that "generally" Hindus had goodwill towards Christians and that the threat comes from "a minority which are radicalised who have taken over the government.

However, he added: "The majority keep quiet. They don't stand up for us and protect our rights and maintain justice. They keep quiet and are afraid."

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