While Christian leaders praise Modi, activists highlight ongoing unrest in Manipur, and nationwide attacks on Christians

By Christian Today India |
Burnt Bibles
Burnt Bibles from the attacks on Christians in Manipur | Open Doors
In a joint press statement released on December 28, prominent figures and political commentators, including Apoorvanand, John Dayal, ASR Mary Scaria SCJM, AC Michael, Minakshi Singh and Shabnam Hashmi, addressed the paradoxical journey of the Christian community in India through 2023.

The statement reflects on the challenges faced, ranging from church burnings and killings to the unexpected commendation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi by Christian religious leaders for his contributions to the welfare of the Christian community during Christmas celebrations at his residence.

The year commenced with disturbing incidents in Imphal, marked by church burnings and the killing of Christians, prompting the Christian community, including Bishops and clergy, to plead with the Prime Minister to visit Manipur. However, the plea seemingly went unanswered, shifting the responsibility to the Home Minister and the state’s Chief minister, who faced public allegations of negligence in addressing the communal crimes and human tragedy in the region.

Despite Supreme Court intervention and the involvement of the Chief Justice of India, the only significant action taken was the burial of Kuki-Zo-Hmar people in Imphal hospitals. Approximately 50,000 individuals from these communities continue to endure harsh conditions in refugee camps run by various church groups. Human rights activist Harsh Mander emphasised the persistent human disaster, particularly affecting women, and children, with issues such as unemployment, malnourishment and the rule of private armies in the hills.

The press statement extended beyond Manipur, addressing the widespread persecution of the Christian community across the country. Allegations of hate from nationalist religious leadership and government actions aiming to starve the community out of existence were raised, including the withdrawal of FCRA from numerous churches and NGOs. The statement also highlighted the incarceration of nearly 100 pastors and ordinary individuals in Uttar Pradesh under charges of illegal conversions.

“But it is not about Manipur alone. The persecution of the community is rampant, hate towards it from the highest quarters of nationalist religious leadership as deep as it can be. The government seems keen to starve it out of existence by withdrawing the FCRAs of a vast number of churches and its NGOs, and using the investigating agencies against Cardinals and Bishops, Pastors, and lay people. In UP for instance, nearly 100 pastors and even ordinary men and women are in jail under charges of illegal conversions when all they were doing was celebrating birthdays or conducting Sunday prayers,” the release stated.

International and national human rights bodies, including the Wada Na Todo Abhiyan, criticised India for its treatment of religious minorities, reporting an alarming rate of two incidents of persecution per day against Christians and Muslims in the country.

The figures in the statement emphasised the duty of the Prime Minister to embrace the nation’s religious minorities and invite their leaders to function during significant religious days. They also called for reciprocal respect, urging Bishops and Cardinals to felicitate political leaders.

The statement concluded by extending Christmas and New Year greetings to the nation, while urging everyone not to forget the plight of their brothers and sisters who suffer due to government impunity and the actions of political elements with little regard for constitutional principles.

Originally published by Christian Today India