Release International, December 17th, 2023
As India heads towards elections in 2024, violence towards Christians is growing. Partners of Release International warn that persecution has increased under the current Hindu nationalist government. And if the ruling BJP is given a fresh mandate in 2024, they fear persecution will rachet up again.
Two factors are indicative of the growing hostility towards Christians. The first is the spread of anti-conversion laws and the arrests of Christians who share their faith.
The second is the ethnic violence in Manipur in northeast India which broke out in May 2023, and turned into religious persecution. Indian media estimate 175 were killed. Release International (RI) sources say around 300 churches were burned down and 60,000 people were driven from their homes.
One pastor has been unable to hold Sunday services for the past for five months. In September, he had to resort to conducting services over the telephone. Another congregation whose church was destroyed in May has been unable to hold meetings. To care for his congregation, the pastor must visit them individually.
Threats and persecution have now spread to surrounding areas. But wherever possible, pastors continue to conduct Sunday services.