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ICC Note: Christians in India are facing a new wave of persecution under the current BJP-led government. In the past month, Christians have declared victory in two important persecution cases. First, Christians in Meghalaya state successfully lobbied their state government to reinstate Good Friday as a public holiday. Second, Professor Amit Kumar Soren was released from prison on bail as he awaits trial on false charges of inciting hatred.   

04/03/2018 India (Baptist Press) – Christians comprising just 2.3 percent of India’s population noted two legal successes this Easter as religious persecution mounts under the Hindu nation’s ruling Indian People’s Party (BJP).

In Meghalaya, one of three Indian states where Christians comprise a population majority, the BJP-ruled government responded to widespread public protests and withdrew an order March 27 to halt Good Friday observances, Christian persecution watchdog World Watch Monitor reported March 29.

“We are happy that the government officials acted promptly and reversed the controversial order,” P.B.M. Basaiawmoit, a Presbyterian and former vice-president of the National Council of India, told World Watch. The ordeal was reminiscent of Good Friday 2017, when the federal government tried to cloud the Christian holiday by launching Digital India Day. That year, only after protests did the government exempt from the launch Meghalaya and the nation’s two other Christian majority states of Nagaland and Mizoram, World Watch said.

In a second glimmer of hope this Easter, the Supreme Court of India released prominent Christian leader Amit Kumar Soren from prison March 27 as he awaits trial on false charges stemming from his Christianity, the United Christian Forum for Human Rights (UCFHR) reported March 29.

Soren’s release comes as violence continues against Christians that number 63.97 million in the nation of 1.34 billion people, Open Doors said in its 2018 World Watch List that ranks India 11th among the 50 countries worldwide where persecution against Christians is most severe. Open Doors moved India up from a ranking of 15 it garnered in the 2017 list.

Soren was falsely accused of inciting hate.

“Professor Soren’s case just shows how absurd the allegations against Christians have become,” Alliance Defending Freedom India (ADF India) representative Tehmina Arora told UCFHR. “The only thing he did was to organize a public gathering and stand up for religious freedom in India. He now faces up to three years in prison.”

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