Persecution in India: Today’s Update October 8, 2021 (Friday)
Himachal Pradesh Police Arrest Christian Priest, Who Distributed Bibles, On False Charges of Forced Conversions
Uttar Pradesh Police Fail to Arrest BJP Leader’s Son Who Ran Over Protesters Killing Four
Financial Times Compares India’s Growing Culture of Hatred, Violence and Impunity to Racial Inequality Behind George Floyd’s Killing
Priests Arrested For Sharing Bibles: The Indian American Muslim Council condemns the arrests of a Christian priest, Rev. Charlie John, and two others in Himachal Pradesh state who were handing out evangelistic booklets and Bibles in villages after Hindu extremists falsely accused the Christians of forcibly converting Hindus to Christianity.
While Christians and Muslims, India’s two main religious minorities have long been discriminated against, they have faced even worse persecution since 2019 when Himachal Pradesh legislated draconian anti-conversion laws that are over-broad and virtually criminalize any expression of the Christian faith. The law has emboldened Hindu extremist groups connected to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to level false charges against Christians and carry out physical violence.
The law prohibits even a conversation about the “threat” of “divine displeasure,” meaning Christians cannot talk about Heaven or Hell, as that would be seen as “forcing” someone to convert. And if snacks or meals are served to Hindus after an evangelistic meeting, that could be seen as an “inducement.” Under this law violations are punishable with up to five years in prison. Indian Christian groups have reported a sharp escalation in violence against them by Hindu extremists since COVID-19 lockdown restrictions were eased last year.
Police Fail To Arrest Minister’s Son Who Killed Protesters: IAMC condemns the government of Uttar Pradesh state for its failure to arrest a politician’s son who allegedly ran over and killed four people protesting against the government. It is unconscionable that even though many eyewitnesses had identified Ashish Mishra, the son of India’s federal minister Ajay Mishra, as leading a convoy of three cars that deliberately drove into a group of protesters, the UP police have failed to arrest him five days after the killings on October 3 (Sunday).
The minister is a member of Prime Minister Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and had openly threatened to teach the protesters a lesson if they did not end their agitation against India’s anti-farmer laws. It is shocking that the UP Government of Chief Minister Adityanath, who is a Hindu extremist himself and has targeted Muslims and Christians in his state through blatantly discriminatory executive action as well as bringing false criminal charges, continues to protect the minister’s son despite incontrovertible evidence by way of video footage that the three cars ran over the farmers.
For more than a year Prime Minister Modi’s government as well as BJP’s state governments in Uttar Pradesh and Haryana states have persecuted hundreds of thousands of farmers who have been on a continuous sit-in against draconian farm laws that they say will destroy their livelihoods.
Financial Times Flags Hindu Extremist Violence: A columnist with Financial Times newspaper has called out the escalating Hindu extremist violence in India, citing the “deeply disturbing” video showing “heavily armed state police, ordered to demolish huts built mainly by impoverished Muslims on public land, open fire on a villager running towards them armed only with a bamboo stick.”
The man, Moinul Haque, a 30-year-old father of three, was beaten by police with batons after he fell to the ground. “He lies unmoving, blood from an apparent bullet wound to his chest spreading across his white vest,” columnist Amy Kazmin wrote on October 7. She wrote that just as George Floyd’s killing by a Minneapolis police officer reflected America’s deep-rooted problems of racial inequality and police violence, the barbarity in Assam was a “window into India’s growing culture of hatred, violence and impunity.
India never fully recovered from the 1947 partition along religious lines, and communal prejudices run deep.” The columnist stresses that Prime Minister Modi’s BJP and the Right wing Hindu nationalist organizations were fanning old hatreds, demonizing the Muslim minority as a threat to the Hindu majority, and suggesting violent remedies.