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06/07/2022 India (International Christian Concern) – Last week, on June 2, the US Department of State released its annual country-specific reports on international religious freedom in 2021. Its report on religious freedom in India highlights cases of significant human rights abuses against minorities, including credible reports of “unlawful and arbitrary killings,” “arbitrary arrest and detention by government authorities,” and “harsh and life-threatening prison conditions.” The US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, commenting after the release of the report, said, “In India, the world’s largest democracy and home to a great diversity of faiths, we have seen rising attacks on people and places of worship.”

Instead of acknowledging the escalating religious persecution, the Indian government has denied attacks on minorities and their places of worship. An official spokesperson of India’s Ministry of External Affairs argued that statements made by US officials such as Blinken were motivated by bias and that India regularly highlighted issues of anti-minority violence in discussions with the United States.

Regardless of their retorts, India’s government has yet to recognize the reality of increasing persecution, particularly in Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) controlled states. As ICC recently reported, in one such BJP-controlled state in May, at least 30 Christians were arbitrarily imprisoned. Authorities justified these arrests by filing charges of forced conversion. Anti-conversion laws adopted in 11 Indian states are often weaponized against Christians in this way, allowing for such arrests with little regard for due process. While Indian officials contest the State Department’s assessment of religious freedom in India, Christians on the ground continue to be persecuted. We continue to pray for justice and relief for India’s persecuted church.

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