As India continues its national elections, it is becoming more and more clear that Narendra Modi and his Hindu nationalist BJP party will be taking over the majority of India’s next government. Many Christians fear Modi and BJP due to their track record of not protecting religious minorities. When questioned by church leaders about attacks on churches in India, Modi played dumb and stated that he was not aware of any such attacks. In 2013 alone, churches were attacked over 150 times and in some cases made national headlines. Modi playing dumb to the issue of Christian persecution in India has many church leaders outraged and fearful of what the future for Christians looks like.
4/17/2014 India (UCAN India) – Christian leaders have condemned the statement of Narendra Modi that he was unaware of any attacks on members of the community and their places of worship in India.
The BJP’s prime ministerial candidate made the remarks in a television interview last week.
“What he said was an utter lie. The onslaught against Christians by Right-wing groups has always been cause for concern. The Bajrang Dal, the youth wing of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, has been attacking members of the Christian community and vandalizing churches across India,” said Richard Howell, general secretary, Evangelical Fellowship of India, which represents about 45 churches across the country.
Expressing shock and dismay at Modi’s statement, the community leaders said he cannot win their trust if he feigns ignorance about their sufferings.
“How can he forget the gruesome attacks on tribal Christians in Gujarat’s Dangs district in 1998 during the NDA regime when members of the Right-wing cadres burnt down churches? Atal Bihari Vajpayee, then Prime Minster, himself had visited the district to take stock of the situation,” Howell said.
He said 22 churches were burnt in 2002 in Gujarat and several members of the community were attacked by the cadres of Vishav Hindu Parishad (VHP). The VHP is part of the Sangh parivar.
Replying to a question on what steps he would take to ensure no churches are broken down if he becomes Prime Minister, Modi said: “I have never heard of such incidents taking place.”