The secular nation of India has an 80% Hindu majority and a Christian minority approaching 4%. Hinduism is strongly connected to Indian identity and extreme Hindu nationalism under the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is growing.
Persecution and anti-Christian violence have worsened since Narendra Modi became Prime Minister in 2014. The police response to anti-Christian violence is often dismissive.
The strict Covid lockdown in 2020 brought huge suffering in India, worse than in most other countries. In certain Indian states where the BJP holds power, Christian families and especially pastors were refused government food aid by the distributors.
Lockdown saw a marked increase in targeted hate and violence against Christians. Christian missionary, Munshi Dev Tado, was shot dead by suspected Maoist Naxalites in Maharashtra State on 10 July. In June, P Jeyaraj and his son Emmanuel Benicks died after being tortured to death in police custody in Tamil Nadu State, and 14-year-old Samaru Madkami, a convert who was very active in sharing his faith, was brutally tortured and killed in Odisha State.
Suman Munda, who was killed by Hindu extremists in Jharkhand State in July 2020 while attempting to protect her daughter from sexual assault, had been harassed by Hindu radicals from the moment they learned about her conversion to Christianity six years earlier.
Since 1978, Freedom of Religion Laws have been introduced in several states. Despite their name, these are in effect anti-conversion laws banning the use of force, fraud or allurement in conversion. Their vague terms make Christians actively sharing their faith vulnerable to false accusation.
The Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Amendment Act 2020 was passed by Parliament in September 2020. This could adversely affect religious minorities who receive funding from outside India including many Christian organisations.
Ask God to protect Indian Christians against discrimination and violence, and comfort those who have lost loved ones. Pray that rising Hindu extremism will be quelled and that political leaders will pursue peace rather than division.
The above content can also be found in the Praying for the Persecuted Church (2021-2022) booklet