Shocking videos have emerged of Hindu extremists burning Bibles and harassing and abusing Christians carrying religious literature.
The two incidents, which were verified by Christians in the area, were filmed in southern India. In both videos, mobs of Hindu extremists threaten and abuse Christians who were transporting Bibles and religious pamphlets. They steal the books and Bibles and empty them onto the road.
The videos reflect the rise in anti-Christian violence in India. Just distributing Bibles can be seen as an attempt to lure people into converting to Christianity by ‘fraudulent means’, which is punishable under so-called ‘anti-conversion laws’ in several Indian states.
In the first video, extremists tell the Christians to 'get lost', and that they are 'taking advantage' of people. The extremists say that “we should burn you all and even the car, so that things do not continue”.
’Brainwashing people to make them Christians’
The second video shows Bibles and Christian pamphlets being distributed to students in Telangana state. The extremists are heard asking the Christians why they are distributing Bibles when there are no Christians in the village. The extremists say: “You people think Hindus are fools and [we] will keep quiet.”
They accuse the Christians of getting money for converting people and of 'brainwashing people to make them Christians'. They add that there should be an ‘anti-conversion law’ to ‘control’ the Christians. One extremist points out that a lawyer connected to both the RSS (a right-wing Hindu-nationalist organisation) and the BJP (Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party, which is known for pursuing a Hindu-nationalist agenda) is arriving and asks the Christians why they are hiding their faces.
What is worrying about these videos is that both of them took place in southern states, none of which have yet passed anti-conversion laws. They demonstrate that animosity to Christianity is spreading and that lawful Christian activities, like Bible distribution and evangelism, can still be met with opposition.
The rise of persecution in India is reflected in the country's rise to number 11 on the Open Doors World Watch List. Radical Hindu groups are increasingly enjoying impunity when they harass Muslims or Christians. At least eight Christians were killed last year and nearly 24,000 physically assaulted. The Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI) described 2017 as ‘one of the most traumatic’ years in a decade for Indian Christians after it recorded 351 verified incidences of hate crimes against Christians throughout the year. In a recent report – Hate and Targeted Violence against Christians in India - they note that India’s Hindu-nationalist government had acknowledged in Parliament that ‘communal violence’ – the term used to define clashes between religious groups – ‘increased 28 per cent over three years to 2017’.
- For Indian Christians facing increased pressure: that they will have the courage to stand strong
- For Open Doors church partners providing advocacy support, legal seminars, and Rapid Action Teams in the field to help the victims of persecution.