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Christian Persecution Goes Unabated in India

For the last three years, the country has ranked as the tenth most dangerous for Christians across the world.

Words: Hanan Zaffar
Pictures: Shubham Sharma

Twenty-five-year-old Pinky vividly remembers the day when a mob of Hindu vigilantes barged into her home in the Sitamarhi district of the eastern Indian state of Bihar.

“It was mayhem,” she recalls.

Carrying sticks, rods, and hammers, the mob severely beat Pinky and her husband, Ram Nivas, a local pastor of the area. The couple used to conduct prayers in a small church in their village, and that is what provoked the extremist Hindus to attack them. Pinky accuses the local unit of the Hindu supremacist organization, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad or World Hindu Council of leading the attack. Vishwa Hindu Parishad, which is often associated with such religiously motivated attacks, is ideologically aligned with India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“I, along with my husband, was praying at our home when people from VHP vandalized our home and attacked us with rods. I felt unconscious as I got a blow on my head. My husband also suffered internal injuries and a fracture in his arm,” Pinky told Inkstick.

After the attack, local Christian organizations struggled to find a hospital for Pinky and her husband. “Hospitals were reluctant to admit him since it was an assault case, and they wanted police to arrive first. We had to move from one hospital to another, but nobody helped us,” Pinky said.

Days later, Pastor Nivas died.

The doctors said he had contracted COVID, but Pinky seems unconvinced about the claim. “I don’t know if he died of COVID. He didn’t receive any proper medication. Maybe he got infected as we had to move from one hospital to another. But how does it matter now,” she laments.

Fatal attacks like those on Nivas are not an aberration. Each year hundreds of such incidents of violence against the marginalized community are led by Hindu right-wing groups in India, which accuse Christians of forcefully converting Hindus to their faith. Right-wing Hindu mobs vandalize Christian properties, churches, and missionary schools and disrupt prayer meetings across the country. The members of the community also face social ostracism and boycott for not renouncing their faith.

Many leaders of India’s ruling BJP have openly called for violence against Christians, and several far-right groups aligned with it have also threatened to hold events to do “mass conversion” of Christians to Hinduism.


As per a report by the United Christian Forum, a non-governmental organization that tracks violence against Christians in the country, attacks against the community are at an all-time high in India. This year till Nov. 21, the county witnessed 522 cases of religiously motivated incidents of violence against Christians, the highest number ever since the organization started documenting the attacks in 2014. Last year, the number was 505.

Inkstick talked to several victims of the violence across different states in India, who said that they were attacked solely for their religious identity.

“In almost all incidents reported across India, vigilante mobs comprising religious extremists have been seen to either barge into a prayer gathering or round up individuals that they believe are involved in forcible religious conversions. With impunity, such mobs criminally threaten and/or physically assault people in prayer before handing them over to the police on allegations of forcible conversions,” the report by United Christian Forum notes. (The report has not been posted on the United Christian Forum by the date this was published.)

Inkstick talked to several victims of the violence across different states in India, who said that they were attacked solely for their religious identity.

“We are simply attacked for being Christians. We are attacked for our faith,” says Vipin, a member of the Christian community in the Amethi district of the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. In August 2022, Vipin, along with his wife and three other relatives, were attacked by a right-wing Hindu mob for carrying a prayer meeting.

“They [the mob] kept beating me till I got unconscious. Then somebody among them said that stop or he will die. Then they got water and poured over me. When I got conscious, they started beating me again with sticks,” Vipin told Inkstick.

“After beating me, they [the mob] brought me to the Police Station. Rather than helping me, police put me in jail for 22 days before I was released on bail,” added Vipin.

Vipin believes the mob had planned to implicate him and his relatives under the state’s stringent anti-conversion law. The controversial law enacted by the BJP government in 2020 calls for imprisonment for up to 10 years for offenders who try to convert people by “fraudulent” means.

Critics of the right-wing government say that the law has been designed to harass people from minority communities and deliberately puts the burden of proof on the accused.

“There are anti-conversion laws in various states of India, and there has not been a single conviction of a Christian on account of forceful conversion,” Michael, a former member of the Delhi Minorities Commission and the current convenor of United Christian Forum, told Inkstick.

“There is a false allegation against the Christian community in India that they are involved in forceful conversions through threat, allurement, and deceit for which till today none of these perpetrators, including the governments in states and center, have not produced any evidence to prove their allegations,” added Michael.


For the last three years, India has continuously ranked as the tenth most dangerous country for Christians across the world, as per Open Doors’ watch list.

Open Doors is a transnational Christian organization that documents violence meted out to the community across the world. “The persecution of Christians in India is intensifying as Hindu extremists aim to cleanse the country of their presence and influence,” Open Doors mentioned in its report.

“The driving force behind this is Hindutva, an ideology that disregards Indian Christians and other religious minorities as true Indians because they have allegiances that lie outside India and asserts the country should be purified of their presence,” the report added.

Activists based in the region blame the BJP government for the increase in violence. In 2014, when BJP swept elections in the country, United Christian Forum reported 147 incidents of religiously motivated violence against Christians. Since then, the incidents have almost quadrupled. Patsy David, a prominent Christian activist who has been helping in providing relief, rehabilitation, and legal aid to the victims across various states in the country, believes the government’s inaction is emboldening perpetrators of the violence.

“We are seeing that wherever the church services are being held, they are being disrupted. The government inaction is appalling and points to a silent approval from their side,” David told Inkstick.

David says the violence has shown a discernible uptick since the coming of the Hindu nationalist BJP to power in 2014. “There is a clear spike [since 2014]. There was a lull for a brief period during the Covid pandemic, but it has now drastically increased again,” David added.

His words are echoed by Michael, who believes that all state institutions, including the police and judiciary, are complicit in dealing with the issue of Christian persecution in the country.

“Our experience of handling such incidents, in almost all cases, the police and the local authorities are always found taking sides with perpetrators. In fact, sometimes, police seem to be working on the instructions of the perpetrators,” Michael told Inkstick.

“Many times, police accompany these mobs who attack the peacefully praying community and beat up men, women, and children. The mobs desecrate religious articles and burn Bibles under the watch of police.”

Hanan Zaffar is a freelance journalist based out of South Asia. His work from the region has appeared in Al Jazeera, VICE, Business Insider, Newsweek, Channel 4, DW News, TRT World, and other notable international organizations.

Hanan Zaffar

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