India – Not safe to be Christian? Catholic Forum Report on Indian Persecution 2015

January 21, 2016 by  
Filed under newsletter-lead, Persecution


India Rises to No. 17 on Open Doors Global Persecution List 2015

CSF Documents Over 200 Major Incidents of Persecution & Hate Speech

Catholic Forum Documents Unprecedented Spike in Indian Christian Persecution

Maharashtra is Hindutva capital. MP is Rogue State No. 1 with Telengana and UP following

Minimum 7 Pastors Killed. 8,000 Victims. Women & Children Targeted. An Incident Per Day

Top 10 States include – Tamil Nadu, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Odisha,  Rajasthan & Delhi

The Catholic Secular Forum (CSF), the Mumbai based minority and human rights activist NGO has in its annual report for 2015 highlighted the quantum leap in persecution cases during the last year. Justice Michael Saldanha, retired judge of the Bombay and Karnataka High Courts released The CSF Indian Christian Persecution 2015 Report, brief info of which is as below.

Joseph Dias, CSF founder and general secretary, pointed out that USA and the European Union have placed embargoes on nations that failed to protect minorities and endangered religious liberty, while asking the following questions:

1. Is any other religion persecuted as much in India, as Christianity – which is the world’s largest religion?
2. Why is it that PM Modi’s government is unconcerned about world opinion & allows persecution?
3. What would be the reaction from other faith followers, if their community was treated as such?

Persecution Across Over 23 States

8 Believers Paid with Their Lives for Christ.

1 & 2. In Odisha, a Christian couple was killed by CRPF (July) after being branded as Maoists,
3. In Odisha again, Jeejo, a missionary was killed (August) by Maoists after complaints from other locals.
4. In Chhattisgarh, an Evangelist Sadavir of the Koya tribe was attacked & killed (January) for his faith by fundamentalists.
5. Pastor Krupaiah in Telengana was brutally assaulted died (July) of internal wounds, which finally proved fatal.
6. Pastor Martin Luther from Tamil Nadu was attacked (September) and killed, while his wife sustained serious injuries.
7. Pastor Saji Panikar in Maharashtra was found killed (September), with his wife saying he was murdered.
8. Pastor Chamu Hasda Purty was shot dead (October) in Jharkhand, reportedly for his evangelical activities in the area.

* Minimum 365 – An Incident per Day.
Reports from almost every state in the union have come in. In the last year we could highlight at least 200 major instances of being targeted for being Christian and an equal number is estimated to be unreported. There is agreement among all those working on Freedom of Faith or Religious Liberty issues that 2015 is the peak so far. The Secular & Minority NGOs, Persecution Christian Watchdogs like CSF, Catholic Bishops Conference of India, Clergy from all Denominations and Evangelical / Pentecostal / Independent Churches agree that freedom of religion has never been so much under threat, as presently in the country.

* Madhya Pradesh Tops as Rogue State.
The sheer numbers and all pervasive nature of anti-Christian violence reports coming in from almost all districts and across a wide spectrum of persecution categories as mentioned below, notoriously qualifies Madhya Pradesh for the most persecuting state top slot. The anti-conversion law was amended in spite of there being no issue arising out of religious conversions to warrant it. The punishment for forcible or fraudulent conversions was increased to more that one-year of rigorous imprisonment and also cash fines. This has served as a signal and pretext to the Hindutva foot-soldiers that the BJP state government wanted the needful to be done.

* Spike in Anti-Christian Violence Against Women.
The CSF had drawn world attention in March 2008 to the sad plight of nuns, whose social work is often labeled as conversion activity. It was when Sr. D’mello and others were targeted by Hindutva forces in rural Maharashtra and CSF had taken up the issue. Thereafter in August 2008, we witnessed rape of nuns and women during the Odisha riots. The widows and children left behind by those martyred for the faith tell heart-wrenching stories. 2015 saw at least 3 nuns raped or molested and many of women stripped, two of whom were pregnant and lost their babies, besides hundreds being beaten up brutally. The year had instances of their children not being spared either.

* Maharashtra – The Maximum Potential Hindutva Lab.
The state has emerged as the Hindutva capital of India. A pastor was reported killed. Even rationalists have not been spared and shot in cold-blood. In Pune over 2015 end, almost 1,60,000 Hindu hardliners, all dressed in khaki shorts, white shirts and black hats, put on a massive show of strength at an elaborate rally. VHP organized jagran (awareness) programs in 45 district capitals and places like Satara, Aheri in Gadchiroli, Amravati and Bhandara. In July 2015, a private member bill was admitted, seeking an anti-conversion law. The mover, BJP legislator Atul Bhatkhalkar said there were several places in Maharashtra, where conversions were being carried out forcibly or by offering bribes.  Swami Narendra Maharaj claims to have recently re-converted around 1,800 tribal Christians back to Hinduism.

* Telangana & UP in Top 3 States where Christians are Persecuted.
A pregnant Telangana believer lost her 4 month old child, as she was beaten until she bled from her genital region and the state is noted for targeting Christian women. In UP churches have been desecrated with a dog’s chain put around one of the statues, while reports of reconversions continued. In both states there was a marked increase in violence, with Easter, Christmas and Sunday Worship services being targeted. Many pastors are known to have been beaten brutally and a cemetery near Meerut containing Briton graves was also not spared. Schools and institutions were also attacked, with complaints of the police acting on false complaints.

* Top 10 – Tamil Nadu, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Rajasthan, Odisha & Delhi.
In Tamil Nadu, a pastor and his family was attacked by armed persons, resulting in his death and wife being hospitalized with grievous injuries. In Odisha, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh, pastors and believers were killed too. In Haryana, a cleaner lost his job in a government primary health center, burial of a Christian was prevented and the Hisar Believer’s Church was demolished. In Delhi, churches were vandalized around the new year, 200 Christians including nuns and priests were arrested and pastors were assaulted. In Odisha, there was little hope of justice to  2007 / 08 riot victims and in the central India states of Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh, Christians continued to held under anti-conversion laws and socially boycotted. In many places, Christian worship was not possible. In Rajasthan, Christian families had to flee villages, police participated in persecuting believers, Christians were forced to worship idols and Bibles / religious literature were confiscated.

* Ghar Wapsi Goes Underground. Bahu Lao, Beti Bachao.
Anti-Conversion Laws, Foreign Missionaries etc.The reconversion to Hinduism pogroms continued unabated, but without media glare as we received reports from states like AP, MP, Assam, Kerala, Odisha, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, etc. In at least 5 districts of West Bengal, the VHP responded with a ‘Reverse Love Jihad’ where it promoted Hindu grooms getting married to Christian and minority women after conducting Shuddhikaran (purification) ceremonies. BJP MPs (Tarun Vijay – Rajya Sabha and Yogi Adityanath – Lok Sabha) are to place a private member’s anti-conversion bill, which has been supported by the BJP top brass. 7 Indian states have already passed such laws. Foreign missionaries who have spent several decades in service of the poor and sick are being denied visa extentions. There is also a possibility of a national anti cow-slaughter and uniform civil code legislation.

Christian Victims Profile

– 8 Killed. Minimum 8000 Victims
– 4000 Women with 2000 Children Involved
– 500 + Clergy & Community Leaders Targeted

Cross Section of Over 200 Major Incidents Spread

States 2015 2014
Madhya Pradesh 29 23
Telangana 20
Uttar Pradesh 19 12
Jharkhand 11 2
Tamil Nadu 12 5
Chhattisgarh 21 19
Delhi 10 5
Haryana 8
Odisha 14 13
Karnataka 16 14
Kerala 10 9
West Bengal 7 2
Andhra Pradesh 6 *
Maharashtra 6 2
Rajasthan 5
Goa 4 2
Bihar 5 4
Punjab 3 1
Assam 2
Gujarat 2 1
Arunachal Pradesh 1
Himacal Pradesh 1
Kashmir 1
Total 213 120

Hate Speech Samples

There was a motive behind the service Mother Teresa provided to the poor — to convert them to Christianity.
* Mohan Bhagwat, RSS chief

The 1857 war of independence, a communal war fought for religion and similar wars would be waged, if Christians did not stop conversions. The allegations of communal overtones in the gang rape of an elderly nun were a conspiracy of the church and that sexual exploitation of nuns was a Christian culture and not that of Hindus. The Pope is so worried about rape of nuns that he is promoting gay sex to stop it.
* Surendra Jain, VHP joint secretary

The Narendra Modi-led NDA government should award and provide legal and administrative protection to Hindus who attack churches across the country. Churches are no longer places of worship but factories for conversion of Hindus into Christianity. We would give awards and protection for Hindu youths who attack churches and marry Muslim girls.
* Munna Kumar Shukla, general secretary of the Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha

Muslims and Christians don’t have any right to stay here. So they would either be converted to Hinduism or be forced to run away from here. I will ensure that India is freed of Muslims and Christians by December 31, 2021. The enemies have tried many a time in the past to finish Hinduism. But every time, a Ram, Krishna and Chanakya came forward to finish them and restore the glory of Hinduism. I am also doing the same.
* Rajeshwar Singh, Dharma Jagran samiti, UP

The population of Muslims and Christians is growing day by day. To rein in this, Centre will have to impose emergency, and Muslims and Christians will have to be forced to undergo sterilization so that they can’t increase their numbers
* Sadhvi Deva Thakur, vice president, All India Hindu Mahasabha

Hindu population will soon reach 125 crore through meaningful ‘Gharwapsi’
* Sadhvi Saraswati from MP

Wait for some time, a law will be passed in Parliament in which anyone indulging in cow slaughter and conversion will be punished with the death sentence. A Hindu woman must have at least four children. Give one to the army, another to us religious leaders and teachers.
* Sakshi Maharaj, BJP MP from UP

The Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi was a British agent. India got freedom from the British rule not by spinning the charkha, but because of sacrifices made by brave sons like Veer Savarkar and Bhagat Singh. If Hindu women have four children, one can become an engineer, one can become a doctor, one can protect the borders and one can be devoted to the cause of social service.
* VHP leader, Sadhvi Prachi

The Hindu Mahasabha has ordered about five hundred Nathuram Godse (killer of Mahatma Gandhi) statues from artists in Jaipur and plans to install them in the premises of temples across India.
* Mahasabha leader to media

We will install Gauri-Ganesh statues in every mosque, if given permission.
* Yogi Adityanath, BJP MP from UP

The government wants to deliver double-quick on the Bhagwad Gita lessons in school education — right from Class I to Class XII.
* Manohar Lal Khattar, Haryana CM

A mosque / church is not a religious place but is just a building that can be demolished any time. God does not live in mosques, but in temples.
* Subramanian Swamy, BJP leader

Persecution Categories

Reported 2015 attacks on Indian Christians are miniscule compared to the actual ground zero reality, where the CSF works. The reason is that activists fear the political resurgence of Hindutva forces that has made even mere mention of harassment, only worse. Most persecution goes unreported for various reasons. Often the police refuse to record it as such, as it would show them in bad light. For the media, it‟s not “news” and there are instances of the local media being biased or taking sides. Often, persecution goes unrecorded because the victims are too afraid to complain or a compromise is forced upon them by politicians. Persecution is also blamed on causes, other than religious – mental illness, drunkenness, economic, enmity, etc. The CSF has categorized the incidents as under:
A. Killed/Murdered/Death
B. Beaten/Assaulted/Manhandled
C. Women Beaten/Molested/Raped
D. Church Broken/Ransacked/Demolished/Shut Down
E. House Broken/Car/Bike/Belongings Destroyed
F. Worship Meeting Disrupted/Stopped
G. Pastors/Christians Arrested/Jailed
H. Hate Speech/Threats/Abuses
I. Foreign Missionaries Targeted
J. Others – Ghar Whapsi, etc.

Steep Rise of Hindutva in 2015

The year saw the RSS consolidate itself in almost every sphere of activity, with the BJP – one of its 38 ideological affiliates – preparing to strengthen its hold on the country’s polity. The BJP recently became the world’s largest political organisation with 10 crore BJP membership. The current estimate of 1.5 crore RSS membership is largely through its digital forays. Online membership requests  touched 7,000 a month in 2015 aggregating 85,000 last year. Shakhas are the smallest unit of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and it now has 51,330 RSS shakhas operating in 33,222 places. The Sangh Pariwar spread is near total with Kerala, having over 4,500 shakhas, the highest number in India, despite never having had a BJP government.

The RSS had many of its 700 mega rallies including one for Overseas Sanghites at Indore, with Lok Sabha (lower house in parliament) Speaker, Sumitra Mahajan inaugurating it. Over 750 delegates from 45 countries attended. The ‘NGO’ is very successful on social media too, with over 15 lakh ‘Likes’ on its Facebook page and 1.5 lakh followers on Twitter. “Their Facebook page has some of the best graphic designers,” says a youngster whose grandmother is with RSS. He says the organization has a network of WhatsApp groups and generates content for WhatsApp. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), a major spawn of the RSS, is to construct temples in every village across the country. The target is to reach 1.25 lakh villages. It had been observing Ram Mahotsava has already reached 70,000-75,000 villages pan India. The RSS meetings also see the presence of prominent personalities from among police, media, science, judiciary, education, bureaucracy, armed forces, god-men and women, litterateurs etc.

Institutional Persecution

* Presidential Order of 1950
* Anti-conversion Legislation
* Foreign Contributions Regulation Act
* Toothless and Non-Existent Minorities Commissions
* Various Sections of Indian Penal Code
* Schedule Tribal Benefits and Forest Act
* Finance and Government Schemes
* Bills and Commissions
* Land Allotment for Religious Needs
* Infringement of Minority Rights under Art 30


* Sabka Vikas, Sabka Saath
* Political Representation
* Economic Upliftment
* Holy Land Subsidy
* Odisha Justice
* Enactments
* Finance

For more info, contact:

Justice Michael Saldanha (Retd)
Bombay & Karnataka High Courts

Joseph Dias, MA (Econ) +91 9769555657
Ex-Special Executive Magistrate, Govt of Maharashtra