Indian Christians fear persecution is 'new normal'

Indian Christians have suffered at least 15 attacks during the last fortnight, according to International Christian Concern.

The incidents include forced conversions away from Christianity, false accusations of forced conversions to Christianity, physical assaults and a church demolition.

ReutersIndia's Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been urged to tackle religious extremism.

Among the incidents reported by ICC, on July 6, six Christians were forcefully converted to Hinduism in the Kunti District of India's Jharkhand State. On the same day, six Christian families from a village near Ranchi, the capital of Jharkhand, were given an ultimatum to recant their Christian faith by July 15 or face 'severe consequences'.

On July 8, Hindu radicals assaulted a pastor, his wife, and three other Christians inside a prayer hall in Paguthampalayam village located in southern Tamil Nadu State. According to local Christians, the assailants also stripped the pastor's wife. Following the attack, four of the Christians were arrested by police after radicals filed police complaints against them.

On July 15, a Christian family was socially boycotted in Kotetharaa village, located in the Janjgir-Champa District of Chhattisgarh State. Hindu villagers were told that they would have to pay a 10,000-rupee fine if they were caught speaking with the Christian family.

Also on July 15, a church was attacked during a worship service in Rajendra Nagar, located near Raipur in Chhattisgarh State. The assailants beat men, women, and children who attended the church service. The Christians were further assaulted at the police station by a mob of Hindu radicals.

According to ICC, the incidents demonstrate a 'growing anti-Christian sentiment' in India.

Dr John Dayal, President of the United Christian Forum, said: 'We [Christians] are becoming increasingly concerned at political, social, and economic developments in our country that may fracture, if not irretrievably impact, the very foundations of conditional democracy.'

William Stark, ICC's regional manager, said: 'Every day, new reports of persecution come in from what seems like every corner of India. Many Christians fear that this may be the new normal for their community as Hindu radicals have been allowed to attack Christians and other minority communities with impunity. India must take concrete steps to counteract this wave of intolerance and violence. Until then, the attacks will likely continue to increase in both number and severity.'

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