Indian government called to act as Christians suffer increasing attacks

A brave Christian leader prays in front of a Hindu worship site on the Ganges.(Photo: Release International)

Accusations of converting Hindus are being used as an excuse to attack Christians in India, Release International has warned.

Christians account for less than five percent of the population in majority-Hindu India, and Release warns that they are increasingly being attacked as the radical nationalist movement, Hindutva, grows in influence.

Hindutva ideology equates Indian national identity with being a Hindu, with both Christians and Muslims facing growing harassment for supposedly not being true Indians.

In a recent attack in Mansura village, Uttar Pradesh, a 23-year-old Christian was set upon by a mob wielding bamboo clubs and steel rods.

Uttar Pradesh, in northern India, is one of eight states with anti-conversion laws.

Hindu militants threatened to kill Anamika Gautam and her father for carrying out so-called forced conversions.

"They were adamant that we must be butchered to death for converting people to Christianity," she told Morning Star News.

"We told them that nobody accepts the Christian faith because of us, it is the Lord who calls people to him, it is not human effort."

She said her attackers kicked and punched her, touched her inappropriately and tore her clothes.

Her father, younger brother, and three onlookers who tried to come to their rescue were also beaten by the mob.

When they tried to report the attack to the police, their complaint was ignored and instead, a counter-complaint was lodged against them for supposed breach of the peace, criminal intimidation, and charges arising from claims they had forcefully converted a former Hindu who had attended prayer meetings at their home.

Anamika said the family are experiencing "constant harassment" and that their lives remain in danger.

Nonetheless, she is trusting in God.

"As we pass by on the road, they threaten us or abuse us. But I know that even if the world is against us, the Lord is on our side. He is faithful," she said.

Commenting on the plight of India's Christians, Release CEO Paul Robinson said the country was "of special concern".

"Attacks against Christians are growing, reflecting the growing intolerance towards other faiths from militant Hindu nationalism," he said.

"We urge Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take action to protect the religious minorities in his country, including Christians.

"And we urge the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, to speak up against the increased persecution of Christians in India.

"We call on Mr Johnson to exercise his influence over his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi, to change the growing culture of intolerance in the country."