Tuesday, November 3, 2015

RLPB 334. India: violence escalates as Hindutva takes hold

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 334 | Wed 04 Nov 2015

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By Elizabeth Kendal

Hindutva (Hindu nationalism) arose in the early twentieth century -- first, as a response to British colonial rule, and also in response to the threat of Muslim secession (which would leave millions of Hindus as threatened minorities under Muslim rule). Though India has been independent since 1947 and partition is now an established fact, ambitious politicians in 'democratic' India have fostered Hindutva for political gain. No longer needed to unify Indians against colonial rule, Hindutva today is used to unify Indians behind high caste Hindu elites. Nearly a century after Hindutva activists began their long march through India's institutions, high caste Hindutva protagonists have come to dominate politics, academia, education, media and security. Despite multitudes of Indians being secular and peaceable, Hindu nationalism has captured the imagination. [For a more detailed version of this RLPB that explains the origins of Hindutva and Islam's influence on it: click here, India: Hindutva, Conversions and Violence, by Elizabeth Kendal, Religious Liberty Monitoring, 4 Nov 2015]

Hindutva has turned India into a tinderbox of sectarian tension. Violent persecution is on the rise. The monthly reports from Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI) make sobering reading, covering incidents raging from destruction of Christian property through to mob violence (pogroms), serious assault and murder. The following are a few samples from EFI's October report, all fully verified and acknowledged as 'the tip of the iceberg'. On 8 September a mob of over 50 Hindu radicals attacked a church in Bastar, Chhattisgarh, beating the believers with clubs, sticks and fists after a village council banned all non-Hindu worship. Two Christian women were beaten unconscious. The Christians are being shunned and boycotted, making living in the village close to intolerable. On 22 September Hindus in Kongud, Chhattisgarh, summoned two Christian brothers to the local temple and demanded they renounce Christ. When they refused, the Hindus beat them, accused them of forceful conversions, vandalised their home and drove them from the village. The brothers complained to  the police, who refused to register a case. Despite this, the Hindus are threatening further violence if the brothers do not withdraw their complaint.

Pastor Arvinder Singh
During the first week of October Hindu leaders in Chattarpur, Madhya Pradesh, ordered Hindus to boycott Chattarpur's 26 Christian families, depriving them of water and other basic services. The Christians are also receiving death threats. On 8 October Pastor Arvinder Singh and his family were beaten almost to death in Phagwara City, Punjab, by a Hindu mob which included their own neighbours. Pastor Arvinder (pictured) was beaten unconscious with a metal bar, his pregnant wife was seriously bashed and their 11-month-old baby boy was thrown onto a pile of bricks, causing him serious internal injuries. Nearly a month later, no police report has been registered. On 12 October the mother of a pastor in Dahod, Gujarat, was stoned by a Hindu mob. Her injuries required hospitalisation. On 13 October suspected Hindu nationalists broke into the home of Pastor Chamu Hasda Purty of the Pentecostal Church in Sandih, Jharkhand, and shot him dead. On 17 October Hindu nationalist youths attacked a 50-strong prayer meeting in Rajnandgaon, Chhattisgarh, and beat up the pastor. Police arrived and detained the Christians, who were only released after local Christian leaders intervened. On 25 October Pastor Thomas, his wife and two children were among ten Christians arrested in Junardeo, Madhya Pradesh, on false charges of forced conversions. The children were separated from their parents and from each other. While all the adults have since been bailed, the children remain in detention -- John (14) 174 km away in Narsinghpur and Kezia (12) 471km away in Shahdol.

India's ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) plans to introduce a private member's bill banning conversions to both the upper and lower houses of parliament during the winter sitting, expected to commence on 20 November. The bill will propose that those engaged in conversion be subject to a non-bailable warrant and liable to a ten-year prison term. The situation in India is about to get considerably worse. (Ephesians 6:12-18)


* God will be at work amongst Indians, opening their eyes to truths (e.g. that Christians are doing good works), quickening their minds to discern lies (that Christians are not the enemy), and awakening them to realities (particularly that sectarian bloodshed shames India and threatens the economy); may the people wake up to and reject the self-serving ploys of the Hindu elite.

* Western political leaders and diplomats will not avoid addressing the issue of Hindu nationalism, religious apartheid and escalating religious intolerance and communal violence. [India should stand condemned but currently nobody seems to have an interest in addressing this issue.]

* Christ will build and bless his Church, leading those who need wisdom, comforting those who are traumatised and afraid, providing believers with all their needs, and redeeming all suffering for his good purpose.


Hindutva (Hindu nationalism) arose in the early twentieth century primarily as a response to British colonial rule. India has been independent since 1947, but ambitious politicians in 'democratic' India now foster Hindutva for political gain. Instead of uniting Indians against the British, Hindu nationalists are uniting Indians behind a Hindu elite keen to preserve their own power and privilege. By demonising non-Hindus as disloyal and a threat, Hindutva has turned India into a sectarian tinderbox. Violent persecution is escalating and will certainly get considerably worse when the ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) introduces an anti-conversion bill during the winter sitting of parliament (expected to commence 20 November). The Indian Church is growing precisely because it is a mission-focused church. Please pray for India and its Church. (Ephesians 6:12-18)

Elizabeth Kendal is the author of 
Turn Back the Battle: Isaiah Speaks toChristians Today
(Deror Books, Dec 2012).