The PJ Tatler

Are India's Religious Minorities Better Off a Year in to the Modi Administration?

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been in office now for a year, and despite his promises of protection of India’s religious minorities, those minorities have seen continued attacks at the hands of militant Hindu groups.

Modi’s landslide victory in May 2014 drew statements of hope from representatives of India’s religious minorities, while others expressed concerns at the efforts by Hindu nationalist groups to help bring Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to power. Modi has made promises to protect minorities, but religious leaders have remained skeptical.

However, the All Indian Christian Council expressed reservations. National coordinator Kumar Swamy told Christian Today at the time that extremist Hindu groups had helped to “inflame” the BJP and increase its popularity, and warned that persecution would increase under its rule. “I’m sure there will be increased sporadic, localised attacks in the Christian community,” Swamy said. “Modi’s background is that he is sold out for Hindu ideology; he was a member of a right wing Hindu group and we as the Christian community in India are sitting, fingers crossed, wondering, waiting and watching what is going to happen.”

One year on from Swamy’s predictions, and it looks like his concerns were warranted. Speaking anonymously to Christian Today, a country expert for Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) said that the climate for religious minorities has become “more and more uncertain in the last year”.

“Since the BJP took office in parliament, there has been greater impunity in the way that extremist groups have been behaving in civil society, so more and more we hear from the ground that minorities in the country are feeling a sense of fear and concern for their future,” the source said.

Earlier this month, several attacks on Christians in the country have renewed the skepticism of leaders.

Three Protestant churches were attacked in Indore, in Madhya Pradesh, on May 12, according to AsiaNews. The attackers threw stones at one church and vandalised numerous pieces of church property at St Paul’s Anglican Church.

The militants also tried to set fire to one of the churches by throwing burning rags inside the building. The police responded quickly and extinguished the flames before the fire spread.

Some have speculated that the violent Hindu group Sanskritik Jagran Manch was behind the attack.

In the early hours of May 13 a centre for disabled children run by Augustinian nuns in the same region was attacked by unknown criminals who threw bricks on the roof which fell in the room where the nuns were sleeping, AsiaNews reports. The nuns were unharmed in the incident, and none of the children were at centre on the night it was attacked.

Modi has not remained silent on these attacks, but his administration has not taken any concrete steps to remedy the violence.

A year in to his administration, Narendra Modi has proven to be all talk and no action when it comes to protecting India’s religious minorities.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock / GongTo