Churches cancelling Christmas celebrations in India | The Express Tribune


Many churches in the Karnataka state of India have cancelled their Christmas celebrations following threats from the radicals as the “saffron goons” continue to target minorities to pursue their Hindutva ideology.

At a time when India would observe Minorities Rights Day on Saturday with a so-called resolution to protect their rights, the factual position is that the Christians in many parts of the country were even unable to hold their Sunday gatherings.

“We are in a critical situation,” Pastor Yellappa, head of an independent church in Gokak, told International Christian Concern (ICC).

Hailing from the Belagavi District of Karnataka state, Pastor Yellappa was forced to shut down his house church after his landlord received multiple threats from radicals. “The radicals put pressure on the landlord.”

“I’ve given up the work that I have been building for the last nine years,” Pastor Yellappa continued. During the last nine years, he was attacked many times and arrested thrice, he said.

Read more: Muslim scholars union calls for forming legal front to defend Muslim minorities

“Several house churches have decided not to have any Christmas programmes,” a local church leader said. “Of all the house churches in the district, which are nearly 300, more than half are shut down due to fear and intimidation. This might even get worse leading up to Christmas. We need prayers.”

The local radicals are organising a rally to protest religious conversions. This rally will only further embolden those intimidating Pastor Andani’s church community.

The radicals continue to indiscriminately target the Indian minorities with over 300 attacks in the first nine months of this year against Christians, making the country one of the worst for the community to live.

Be it is the Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, or Dalits, the Hindutva mindset is poised to the cleansing of all non-Hindu communities not only through policy measures but also the use of force through RSS goons.

In September this year, Pakistan had issued a 132-page dossier on Indian war crimes in IIOJK which contained reports of 32 human rights watchdogs and 14 reports by Pakistan.

According to the document, since 1989, over 96,000 extra-judicial killings, around 162,000 cases of arbitrary arrests and torture, over 25,000 pellet gun injuries were recorded. Moreover, 11,250 women were raped, around 23,000 widowed and over 108,000 children orphaned. The document also provided details of the 8,652 unmarked mass graves that have been identified in 89 villages of IIOJK.

According to the Religious Liberty Commission report, more than 300 attacks on Christians took place in the first nine months of this year, including at least 32 in Karnataka.

Also read: Minority complex plagues India’s Hindus: Guha

Four north Indian states registered as many as 169 of them: 66 in BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh, 47 in Congress-ruled Chhattisgarh, 30 in tribal-dominated Jharkhand, and 30 in BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh.

The Christians are blamed for converting Hindus into Christians and that is also considered to be changing the character of India.

At least nine Indian states have planned anti-conversion laws, including Chhattisgarh, which is termed a “new laboratory” for anti-Christian hatred in India.

On December 1, Hosaduga Tehsildar Y Thippeswamy filed a report, saying there were no instances of forced conversions in the town located in Chitradurga district. This report contradicted several BJP leaders championing the enactment of an anti-conversion.

Within days of filing the report, Thippeswamy was transferred from his government position.

Since the Hindu nationalist BJP took power in 2014, persecution against Christian and Muslim minorities has been on the increase across the country, and today, it’s one of the worst countries in the world to be a Christian.

The World Watch List by Open Door said: “In India, it can be difficult for some Christians to gain access to the Bible. Some Christians cannot read, and others live in places where reading a Bible publicly can lead to attacks or heavy persecution.”

This is the third year since 2019 that India has ranked in the top 10 of the World Watch List.

India’s anti-Sikh policies and religious bias have compelled the community to seek a separate homeland, Khalistan. The recently held Khalistan referendum in the UK has sent a strong message to the Indian establishment to end discrimination against Sikhs.

India is a party to several UN declarations, such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights but it continues to allow individual Hindu nationalists to intimidate and terrorise the Sikh minority without consequence.

Apart from that, Hindu Dalits are denied access to education, health, inter-marriage and often pushed to seek low-grade jobs.

A telling example of the social exclusion that Dalits suffer even in the face of a large-scale natural disaster was witnessed in the immediate aftermath of December 26, 2004, a Tsunami which killed over 10,000 and displaced 650,000.

The cow vigilantes came to prominence as part of India’s violent polity during Modi’s first term as prime minister. Since then, from 2014 onwards and during the seven years of his first and now the second term, violence over the ownership and eating of cows has become such a norm that it is barely reported anymore.

The Indian state has become the largest violator of human rights that are guaranteed in the UDHR. It has become an apartheid state where human rights and “equality” have become a distant idea.

The western powers, often claim to be the champions of human rights, have failed to hold India accountable for its bad human rights record because of their vested interests.

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