PM Modi visits Delhi church on Easter
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid a rare visit to a Catholic church in New Delhi on Easter Sunday.
Modi attended the service at the Sacred Heart Cathedral Church in the capital city. An official video showed him greeting priests and worshippers and later joining them as they offered prayers. He also planted a tree on the premises. His visit is considered as another attempt to win more Christian voters over to his Hindu nationalist party called Bharatiya Janata Party, whose allies are well-known for attacking Christian communities.
Rising attacks on Christians are part of the agenda of Hindu supremacist groups. Since Modi’s party rose to power in 2014, religious freedom has seen significant decline. A.C. Michael, a former member of Delhi Minorities Commission said that violence against Christians had increased from over 100 in 2014 to 600 by the end of 2022, according to the United Christian Forum’s toll free helpline service. There have been 200 incidents in the first 100 days of 2023. Mr Michael also added: “It is also another matter of fact that the Supreme Court of India since Sept. 1, 2022, repeatedly has been asking for details of violence against Christians across India and the Modi government has already sought three extensions as they are unable to find incidents of forceful conversions which are the pretext to target Christians.”
Open Doors USA ranks India as the 10th worst country in the world for oppression against Christians. The organization, that monitors persecution in over 60 countries, states that Hindu extremists aim to purify the country of Christians and other religious minorities. This persuasion is ingrained in Hindutva, an ideology that refuses Christians and other minorities their true Indian identity and aims to cleanse the nation of their presence. This ideology is also responsible for the vicious targeting of Christians and other religious minorities, including the use of social media to distribute misinformation and stir up hatred in the nation. Christians make up only 2.3% of India’s population, while Hindus account for more than 80%.