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ICC Note:

Looking into 2018, Christians in India are quite apprehensive. Over the past three years, persecution and religious intolerance has gotten progressively worse. Based on the events of 2017, 2018 looks to be no different. In just the first six months of 2017, Christians had already endured over 410 attacks on their community. Compared to previous years, especially years before the BJP-led government came to power in 2014, this number indicated a dramatic rise in persecution. Will 2018 be another bad year for Christians in India or will the international community start to call out India for its persecution of religious minorities?

12/31/2017 India (Eurasia News) – As a turbulent year winds up, Indian Christians look to the New Year with apprehension amid growing violent bigotry.

Many are hoping that the government of the Hindu-majority country will do more to contain hate crimes against religious minorities such as Christians and Muslims.

The year 2017 saw the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), already controlling the national government, extend its rule to 18 of 29 states.

Presentation Sister Anastasia Gill, a member of the Delhi Minority Commission, said minorities are feeling insecure.

Every day at least five cases of religion-based violence were reported, mainly in the states of Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, she said.

She added that fanatically nationalist Hindu forces were responsible for the erosion of religious freedom.

With national elections due in 2019, fanatics could seek to divide the electorate on religious lines in order to secure more Hindu votes for the BJP.

Some of these militant groups have the ultimate aim of establishing a “Hindu-only” India.

Muslim and Christian leaders say in the past three years, since the BJP came to power in New Delhi, minority communities have faced worsening persecution.

This had included physical attacks such as Hindu militant lynchings of people involved in the slaughter for meat of revered cattle.

When BJP came to power in 2014, there were only three violent attacks on people that year over the treatment of cattle, but this was up to 24 in 2016.

2017 saw an all time high of 34 incidents in which people were attacked for alleged involvement in the transport or slaughter of cattle.

At least 29 people died. Most of them were Dalits, formerly known as untouchables, but Muslims were also killed.

A U.S. report dealing with worldwide religious freedom in 2017 criticized the Indian Government for presiding over deteriorating religious tolerance.

The report placed India in a category of countries where intolerance is considered to be serious.

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For interviews with William Stark, ICC’s Regional Manager, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: press@persecution.org.