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06/01/2020 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) – “Minorities Flourishing.” The headline has dominated mainstream Indian media in recent weeks as reporters draw quotes from Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi’s recent statement citing the efforts and successes of his political party towards the “empowerment of all its citizens.”

Naqvi, the Minister of Minority Affairs under the headship of Indian Prime Minister Modi and the incumbent Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), highlighted the supposed progress that the Indian Government has made in areas of religious tolerance and equality. Citing a slight increase in non-Hindu population within India and some inclusive Hindi proverbs, Naqvi claims that under BJP, India has taken a more progressive, inclusive stance on religious minorities, rather than slipping into a pseudo-Hindu nationalism.

However, independently-sourced information, from eyewitness accounts in India to official reports from the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) reveal that Naqvi’s statement was merely a false flag; a bone thrown to Indian and Western media to assuage those suspicious of human rights violations within the country.

Claiming that since 2014 and the rise of the BJP India has sought inclusivity and fostered religious and secular diversity, not encouraged the recent uptick in hostilities against religious minorities, the Minister went on to refer to those who have been caught inciting violence against religious minorities as simply “some people [with] prejudiced insanity” who he claims are engaged in a “conspiracy” to undermine the “exceptional [and] tireless” work of the party.

India, whose population is nearly 80% Hindu, has experienced a shift towards radical Hindu Nationalism, a trend that has meant only pain and persecution for the remaining 20% non-Hindi populous.  According to the USCIRF, resistance to anti-minority BJP legislation was met with violent resistance by authorities in 2019 and 2020. Furthermore, individual and mob attacks perpetrated by Hindu extremists have risen steadily in recent years; 328 incidents of violence against Christians were recorded in the past year.

Despite Naqvi’s statements to the opposite effect, the USCIRF report found that 10 Indian states and the central government itself has ignored repeated directions from the Indian Supreme Court to implement and enforce stricter anti-lynching laws, all the while denying that violent incidents and the lynching of religious minorities have risen.

This violent trend is not an indication of religious minorities “flourishing” in India, nor is it merely a one-off threat to Christians and other religious minorities living within India. Rather, it is a symptom of dangerous nationalistic tendencies that have the potential to worsen.

Indeed, history bears witness to fatal anti-religious sentiment borne from majoritarian nationalism. The recent anniversary of the Greek (Pontic) genocides and subsequent denials by the perpetrators serves as a solemn reminder that we cannot take rulers at their word, but rather are dutifully bound to hold them to account for what we know is happening.