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[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Shanthi’s illiterate parents had invested in her education so that she could have a future.[/vc_column_text][vc_custom_heading text=”By ICC’s India Correspondent” font_container=”tag:h6|text_align:left” use_theme_fonts=”yes” css=”.vc_custom_1615318518235{margin-bottom: 22px !important;}”][vc_single_image image=”123096″ img_size=”full” add_caption=”yes” alignment=”center”][vc_column_text]03/09/2021 India (International Christian Concern) – Over the last six years, increased persecution in India has made international headlines. Year after year, the number of attacks on Christians and their places of worship has continued to grow under the Bharatiya Janata Party’s political leadership.

In 2021, the increase in persecution led Open Doors USA to rank India among the world’s top ten worst persecutors of Christians.

While this larger story has made headlines, the individual stories of persecution are often lost. The fact of the matter is that more Indian Christians are experiencing persecution because of their faith than ever before.

Among those experiencing persecution is Shanthi Gundiya, whose name has been changed for security reasons. Age 25, Shanthi was recently refused a job opportunity due to pressure put on her potential employer by radical Hindu nationalists.

One of seven siblings, Shanthi comes from a village in the Jhabua District of Madhya Pradesh. For her family, the denial of this job opportunity was devastating.

My illiterate parents invested so much in my education, perhaps beyond their capacity, hoping I would get a decent job,” Shanthi told International Christian Concern (ICC). “My parents couldn’t afford to pay for higher education for all seven siblings. I was given that privilege. They hoped that I would get work that would improve the conditions of the family.

In February, Shanthi was among 17 people who applied for an administrative position with the local government. Because of her high academic marks, Shanthi was selected for the job.

I was anxiously awaiting my official appointment letter,” Shanthi told ICC. “I was selected because they were giving the job based on academic merits. Things turned against me, however, when news of my selection was leaked to other people in the village.

Along with the village president, RSS leaders put pressure on the hiring officer to deny Shanthi to the appointment. They told the hiring officer not to appoint Shanthi to the position because she is a practicing Christian.

On February 24, I went the hiring officer the enquire about my offer letter,” Shanthi told ICC. “The hiring officer told me that RSS leaders and the village president had opposed my appointment because I go to church. He advised me to consult a higher authority at the district level to see if I could still be appointed for the job.

I was shocked when I found out that the RSS leaders and village president had already been to the district office to block my appointment,” Shanthi continued. “It was hard and very disappointing to give up on this job.

I returned home with a heavy heart,” Shanthi said. “I knew I could take legal action to get the job, but I was afraid that would destabilize the local church. It would give the anti-Christian thugs a reason to cause more trouble for other Christians.

In the end, Shanthi decided not to pursue justice because she feared it would bring greater persecution to her community. This was a difficult decision given the sacrifices her parents made to support her education.

It was challenging for my parents,” Shanthi told ICC. “However, I was proud when they told me not to worry about the job. They said we were not going to compromise our faith for any reason. We will continue to serve Jesus even if a good job is taken away.

Shanthi and her family are among the thousands of Indians that experience persecution every year because of their Christian faith. Reports of physical assaults, closures of churches, destruction of property, intimidations, discriminations, and false criminal accusations are a daily reminder for Shanthi and her family of the persecution their community continues to experience.

We hear frightening news about churches being closed down and physical violence,” Shanthi told ICC. “It is concerning. But we trust that our lives are in God’s hands.

For interviews, contact Alison Garcia: [email protected]. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]