India's ruling party expresses concern over spread of Christianity in two states

India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party has voiced out concern over the spread of Christianity in the states of Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur, which some experts attribute to various reasons including active proselytizing and migration.

(REUTERS / Adnan Abidi)A signboard is seen from the Indian side of the Indo-China border at Bumla, in Arunachal Pradesh, November 11, 2009.

Based on official census data cited by The Hindustan Times, Christians made up 30 percent of Arunachal Pradesh's population in 2011, a big jump from less than 1 percent in 1971. In the state of Manipur, census data reflect that the Christian population has risen from around 19 percent in 1961 to over 41 percent in 2011.

Union minister Kiren Rijiju attributes the spread of Christianity in his home state of Arunachal Pradesh to religious conversions. He had previously sparked controversy by saying the Hindu population in India is diminishing "because Hindus never convert people."

However, there are some experts who disagree with Rijiju and point to migration as the main reason for the spread of Christianity in the country. JK Bajaj of the Centre for Policy Studies told the Times that the growth of Christianity stems from the church's "aggressive proselytization" especially in the period after Independence.

Institute for Human Development professor Amitabh Kundu, on the other hand, said the number of migrations of Christians from other states should be taken into consideration before jumping to conclusions. Nevertheless, Kundu noted that Christians have higher literacy rates compared with other religious groups, which could mean a low fertility rate. Therefore, he said the rise of Christianity cannot be attributed to natural growth alone, so conversion could be one of the reasons for the trend.

Based on a report by the Evangelical Fellowship of India, Christianity in the country is seeing a significant upward trend despite the growing number of persecution cases in the first half of 2016. Within the said period, there were 134 recorded incidents of violence targeting Christians in the country, The Gospel Herald reports.

There were only 147 cases of persecution for the whole of 2014, and 177 in the year 2015. The report noted that the number recorded in 2016 is quite high, considering that these incidents of violence occurred only in the first half of the year.

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