Jesus statue smashed in spate of attacks on India’s Christian community | India | The Guardian

In Assam, two protesters in saffron, the signature colour of Hindu nationalism, entered a Presbyterian church on Christmas night and disrupted proceedings, demanding that all Hindus leave the building.

“Let only Christian celebrate Christmas,” said one of the men, in a video filmed during the disruption. “We are against Hindu boys and girls participating in Christmas function … it hurts our sentiments. They dress up in church and everyone sings Merry Christmas. How will our religion survive?”. The police have subsequently arrested both men involved.

In state of Haryana, on Christmas Eve, an evening celebration at a school in Pataudi was disrupted by members of a right wing Hindu vigilante group. Storming into the school shouting slogans such as “Jai Shri Ram”, now a clarion call for Hindu nationalism, they claimed that the festive event, which included Christmas songs and dance and teachings of the bible, was being used for “religious conversion under the garb of celebrating Christmas” and alleged they were “brainwashing children through drama and speeches into accepting Christianity”.

In the same state, the day after Christmas, a Jesus statue was torn down and the Holy Redeemer Church in Ambala was vandalised in the early hours.

A Christmas event that is held every year at Matridham Ashram in Uttar Pradesh was also targeted by a Hindu vigilante group who stood outside shouting slogans such as “stop conversions” and “missionary murdabad”, meaning “death to missionaries”.

Speaking to local media, Father Anand, a priest at the ashram, said the protests were indicative of the increased attacks that Christians in India have been facing in recent months, as allegations of forced conversion of Hindus to Christianity have become rampant and an anti-Christian hysteria has begun to grow across India.

“This is a symbol of what is happening because these people have impunity, and it creates tension,” said Anand. “Every Sunday is a day of terror and trauma for Christians, especially those belonging to those small churches.”

The Christmas attacks are only the latest examples of incidents of violence against Christians, part of a growing atmosphere of religious intolerance towards India’s non-Hindu minorities, namely Muslims and Christians, under the ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government.

Since the BJP came to power in 2014, attacks on Christians have been on the rise. According to a report by organisation Persecution Relief, crimes against Christians increased by 60% from 2016 to 2019.

Source: Jesus statue smashed in spate of attacks on India’s Christian community | India | The Guardian