India (MNN) — This weekend’s state elections in New Delhi could spell relief for Christians.
Politics and persecution don’t normally cross paths, but the rise of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to power in 2014 has noticeably emboldened Hindu radicals throughout India.
If the BJP fails to win New Delhi, politics and persecution might meet again. This time, though, the meeting could be more favorable for Christians.
A loss of BJP power could trigger a domino effect; some experts say the Delhi elections set a tone other states will likely follow. As the Hindu nationalists lose authority and influence, this might lessen the pressure on religious minorities.
But, until all the votes are counted tomorrow, Emily Fuentes of Open Doors USA says their focus is elsewhere.
“We have seen persecution spreading beyond the rural communities recently,” Fuentes shares.
“To even hear of it in New Delhi and Mumbai is quite a statement; it’s usually remote villages or local governments doing it.”
Last week, hundreds of Christian protestors took to the streets of New Delhi. They wanted to draw federal attention to a string of church attacks, and their aim was non-violent.
However, police pulled demonstrators onto buses under the pretense of an emergency law forbidding “unlawful assemblies.” No charges have been filed yet against the Christians, a senior police officer told the Wall Street Journal.
“It’s definitely something we’re monitoring,” notes Fuentes.
Meanwhile near Mumbai, a Christian welder and house fellowship leader remains fearful of his radical Hindu attackers. At the end of January, a small mob mocked and beat Pramod Sahu near his workshop in Palghar District.
Five days after the attack, local police still wouldn’t file a report–a necessity when seeking medical care–and Sahu was unable to receive care for his wounds. It wasn’t until Christian lawyers, contacted through a newly-created emergency hotline, stepped in on Sahu’s behalf that he was admitted into a private hospital.
Politics and persecution
According to the Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI), there is a direct correlation between politics and persecution. There were nearly 150 cases of persecution last year, they report.
Chhattisgarh had the most reported incidents–28–while Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh followed with 26 and 18, respectively.
“Much of the violence has taken place after the new government of Prime Minister Nahendra Modi came into power,” EFI leaders said in a statement acquired by Morning Star News.
“Police inaction and failure to arrest the guilty in most cases, its propensity to try to minimize the crime, and in rural areas especially, its open partisanship, has almost become the norm.”
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“To be willing to share the story, so more people could be praying about the increasing persecution in India, is the best way to strengthen our brothers and sisters there,” says Fuentes.