An Update on Persecution in India
According to the latest Open Doors research, through January to June 2020 there have been 349 persecution incidents affecting more than 5,000 individuals in India. This is in spite of possible underreporting of data due to COVID-19 related lockdowns.
“The pandemic has changed the persecution dynamics,” says Pastor Samuel, OD field partner in India. “We’ve seen countless acts of discrimination. Christians are being ignored in the food distribution. Whether that’s because the government doesn’t give it to them or because the local villagers send them away, it’s still discrimination.”
“Although the incidents reported were on par with last year’s numbers, it’s possible that it’s more difficult to report incidents now.”
How COVID is changing the persecution landscape in India
World Watch List researchers say that an estimated 80%-90% of those who received emergency aid from OD partners were originally denied government aid because they follow Christ.
Of the more than 100,000 individuals reached by Open Doors partners, it is estimated that 80% have been denied food aid, with an additional 15% experiencing other forms of discrimination, such as being refused a government job for being a Christian. “Some Christians even hid the fact that they were Christians in order to obtain government aid,” Pastor Samuel adds.
Heena, another OD partner, shares ways in which this plays out: “Christians may be discriminated against in the shops and be forced to travel to other villages to obtain food. We’ve seen Christians being given less food aid in distribution of relief aid, if given any at all.”
“Often, aid distribution is pooled together for 2- 3 villages. Christians are being discriminated against in this collective. This further prevents them from travelling to a neighboring village to receive aid when denied in their own village.”
The government also runs a scheme whereby daily wage laborers could obtain 90 days of work, adds Heena, but Christians are not being allowed access to these schemes.
“Previously, when Christians were discriminated against in seeking local employment, they also travelled to the city to obtain work, she shares. “However, due to lockdown, they were no longer able to seek employment elsewhere. They were forced to try and make a living from the little land that they may own.”
“Those in rural areas tend to be more affected by discrimination as they tend to be the daily wage laborers in their areas. They also rely on communal resources for water and other utilities. Those in the cities are less affected by boycotts as they generally have access to their own water supply and have government jobs.”
“Christians are often been told to renounce their faith or they will not receive aid. Warnings and threats are commonplace.”
Open Doors persecution data doesn’t only show violence, it also includes discrimination and threats. “It is likely that such discrimination is not reported due to lack of understanding of discrimination,” says Pastor Samuel. “Many just accept this as just a part of their normal life and do not recognize it as discrimination.”
Pray for believers in India who are being discriminated against. Pray that justice is done and that they receive the necessary aid for survival.
Pray also for protection and encouragement for the OD partners who are bringing the emergency aid.