Evidence of oppression and persecution of Christians in India has been dismissed by a government law officer in a submission to the Supreme Court in Delhi.
India’s Solicitor General Tushar Mehta was responding to a plea filed by the Archbishop of Bangalore and two other groups asking that the government be directed by the court to stop systematic violent attacks by nationalists against Christians.
“There is a huge body of evidence that Christians are facing some of the worst persecution anywhere in the world”, commented Henrietta Blyth, CEO for Open Doors UK and Ireland.
“Open Doors has documented hundreds of cases of harassment, intimidation, discrimination, and violence against Christians in India in the last few years, based on reliable sources and eyewitness accounts as well as horrific filmed footage of attacks” she continued.
In his court affidavit, Mr Mehta alleged the claims were being made to “keep the pot boiling” to tarnish country’s image at international level. He stated the official position of the Government that “there is no communal violence against Christians in India,” adding that the petition by the church leaders sent a wrong message to the public that Christians in India were in danger.
He questioned the statistics brought by plaintiffs, “The attempt of the petitioner is to paint a particular false picture …the country is governed by the rule of the law and the attempt to create a false narrative… is an attempt to short circuit the process of law,” adding that India was a “vibrant pluralistic society” founded on strong democratic principles.
For the growing Christian minority in India, the imposition of “anti-conversion laws” in twelve states governed by the ruling Hindu national BJP has worsened the harassment, according to Open Doors. Directly contravening India’s human rights convention obligations, these laws effectively allow Christians to be marginalised and attacked with impunity, the persecution charity says, over false accusations of forcibly converting Hindus.
“These attacks are not isolated incidents, but part of a systematic campaign to marginalise and oppress the Christian minority in India”, Ms Blyth continued. “And, shockingly, the attacks are often carried out with impunity, as the police and local authorities fail to protect the victims or prosecute the perpetrators.”
The petition to the Supreme Court was originally filed in July 2022 by the Catholic Archbishop of Bangalore Dr Peter Machado along with the National Solidarity Forum, and Evangelical Fellowship of India.
The hearing has been postponed several times already. It was rescheduled once more, when it came to court on April 14 and is now due to be heard on May 8, giving the archbishop and others time to respond to the government.
Ms Blyth said that that the charity would continue to monitor the situation in India closely, and provide support and solidarity to its Christian partners and beneficiaries there.
India is currently number eleven on the World Watch List, ranking nations where Christians experience the strongest persecution.
Since the Election of Narendra Modi in 2014 violent attacks on Christian and Muslim minorities in India have increased drastically, including so-called ‘honour’ killings, acid throwing, beatings by mobs and sex assaults on young girls.