Houses were vandalised during an attack on four Christian families in Katholi village, Chhattisgarh state, April 2016. (Photo: World Watch Monitor)
Attacks on Christians have increased since Narendra Modi’s BJP took power in 2014 (Photo: World Watch Monitor)

Christian missionaries are a threat to India’s unity, a Hindu-nationalist parliamentarian told reporters on Saturday (21 April).

“Christian missionaries control the Congress,” said Bharat Singh, an MP for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). “Sonia Gandhi, the mother of Congress president Rahul Gandhi, works on the directions of these missionaries. These missionaries are a threat for the unity of the country.”

Singh added that democracy in India’s Christian-majority north-eastern states has been “weakened” because of the “conversion of people there to Christianity”.

But just last month, the BJP became a governing party in two Christian-majority states in the northeast, Nagaland and Meghalaya.

Responding to the comments, Sajan K. George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians, said Singh had “one intent: to sow discord among religious communities”.

Better understanding

In an attempt to stop the spread of hatred along religious lines in India, some 1,500 religious leaders came together earlier this month in the central Indian city of Indore to promote a better understanding of the different faiths, UCAN reported.

“We see a rise in sectarian violence in the country and have yet to find a solution. Those spreading violence are not religious people. They do not understand the tenets of their religion,” said Adil Sayeed, one of the organisers.

Rev. Jacob Corepiscopa, a priest from the Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church in India’s southern state of Kerala, said Christians never “force anyone to become a Christian” and that their charitable work is not aimed at religious conversion. “This is the way we share our Christian love with others,” he said. “Such things are misrepresented as efforts to [seek] religious conversion.”