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JHARKHAND, India (ChurchMilitant.com) - While Christian persecution in India is on the rise owing to Hindu nationalism, police are telling believers to renounce their faith or leave their homes.
The Christian Post reported last week that, after a Hindu mob brutally beat members of six Christian families in Jharkhand, India, the police ordered those beaten either to renounce their Christian faith or flee."They tied our hands and legs with a rope," said Joginder Bhuya, one of the Christians attacked.
"All the men's hands and legs were tied with the rope," he explained. "That way they might have thought that we cannot defend ourselves."
"They also misbehaved with our women and kicked them all over their body," he added. "They punched us on our faces and back. It was a very pathetic and helpless situation for us."
Prior to the mob attack, Hindu village leaders met to discuss what to do with Christian villagers who persevered in their Christian faith and decided to chase them from their homes if they failed to become Hindu.
Bhuya reported the July 5 attack to the authorities. But the police presented Bhuya and the families with the ultimatum without ever filing a report.
"I thought the police are there to protect and serve justice, but the police spoke exactly what the religious fanatics have been telling us," Bhuya said.
"The absolute sense of impunity generated in the administrative apparatus of India by the corona[virus] pandemic lockdown, and the consequent absence of civil society on the streets and in the courts," reads a recent biannual 2020 report by the Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI), "has aggravated the environment of targeted hate and violence against Christians in major states and the National Capital territory, as seen in the data available till June 2020."
The report adds that a "lynching, community ostracization and concerted efforts to stop worship and gospel-sharing mark the 135 cases registered by the EFI in the first six momentous and eventful months of 2020."
Some cases of persecution are horrific. The EFI report includes the case of a 14-year-old Christian boy who on June 4 was crushed to death by a stone and then dismembered. His body parts were buried in several places.
In Jharkhand, where police gave Christians the ultimatum recently, there were two cases of lynching Christians in 2018, as well as violence against Muslims by cattle-protection vigilantes. This year, the region had four major cases of assault in May alone. Nobody was killed, but women were molested, and in some villages Christians were barred from receiving food rations from government outlets.
The EFI report also notes there is a renewed demand for a law throughout India to forbid converting to another religion from Hinduism.
Open Doors, a community of Christians who come together to support believers in more than 60 countries, lists 11 countries undergoing extreme Christian persecution. India is ranked number 10, preceding Syria at number 11.
"Christians in India face horrific levels of violence from extremists — thousands of attacks take place every year," according to Open Doors. "Several states in India have adopted anti-conversion laws, and the ruling Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has made it clear that it wants to impose these laws nationwide."
Converts to Christianity from a Hindu background are targeted — constantly coerced to revert to Hinduism. This targeting often includes physical assault and sometimes murder.
Two months ago through a European affiliate, the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) filed a written submission before the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to voice concern over the persecution of Christians in India.
The ACLJ requested "the U.N. take swift action and work with the government of India to ensure that the targeting of Christians in India cease, and that they be allowed to peacefully live out their religious beliefs without fear of civil or government action against them."
They asked the UNHRC to "work with the government of India in order to enact change and protect the religious freedom of all people within India."