Videos have emerged of Hindu extremists abusing Christians carrying religious literature. In one of the videos the extremists are seen setting alight a pile of Bibles.
The two incidents, which were verified by Christians in the area, were filmed in southern India. They both show a mob of Hindu extremists abusing Christians who were transporting Bibles and religious pamphlets, and the Christians’ books emptied onto the road.
Just distributing Bibles can be seen as an attempt to lure people into converting to Christianity by “fraudulent means”, which is punishable under so-called “anti-conversion laws” in several Indian states.
In the first video, extremists tell the Christians to “get lost”, and that they are “taking advantage” of people. The extremists add that “we should burn you all and even the car, so that things do not continue”.
The second video shows Bibles and Christian pamphlets being distributed to students in Telangana state. The extremists are heard asking the Christians why they are distributing Bibles when there are no Christians in the village. The extremists say: “You people think Hindus are fools and [we] will keep quiet.” They accuse the Christians of “getting money from different places to convert people” and of “brainwashing people to make them Christians”. They add that there should be an “anti-conversion law” to “control” the Christians. One extremist points out that a lawyer connected to both the RSS (a right-wing Hindu nationalist organisation) and the BJP (Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party, which is known for pursuing a Hindu-nationalist agenda) is arriving and asks the Christians why they are hiding their faces.
None of the southern states have yet passed so-called “anti-conversion laws”, but Bible distribution and proselytising can still be met with opposition, according to World Watch Monitor’s sources.
The Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI) described 2017 as “one of the most traumatic” years in a decade for Indian Christians after it recorded 351 verified incidences of hate crimes against Christians throughout the year. The report noted that India’s Hindu-nationalist government had acknowledged in Parliament that “communal violence” – the term used to define clashes between religious groups – “increased 28 per cent over three years to 2017”. Except for the southern state of Tamil Nadu, which reported the highest number of incidents (52), most of the other incidents reported took place in central Indian states ruled by the BJP.