01/26/2021 United Kingdom (International Christian Concern) – Sir Edward Leigh, a retired member of the British Parliament, urged the government of the United Kingdom to protest the ongoing persecution of religious minorities in India. Earlier this month, members of the Parliament raised similar concerns in open debate on the status of Kashmir. With the increase in rhetoric surrounding India’s Human Rights violations, Indian leadership has actively downplayed such notions and completely dismissed them as India’s own internal affairs. It is yet to be seen if the increase in rhetoric from the UK and around the world will influence New Delhi to adjust its course in its downward trajectory of persecution and systemic discrimination.
Sir Leigh’s comments pinpointed Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration’s terrible treatment of Indian Muslims and Christians. He noted that overwhelmingly in India, Muslims are far more persecuted than other religious group. While the UK cherishes its relationship with India, Sir Leigh stressed that true friendship between the countries means not turning a blind eye to the faults.
Many leaders, advocacy groups, NGOs, and human rights activists have raised these concerns over the years regarding India. The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) recommended that India be designated as a Country of Particular Concern (CPC) in their 2020 report, but the recommendation was rejected by the U.S. Department of State.
From the Christian perspective, the rate of persecution in India has risen sharply since Prime Minister Modi took power in 2014 along with his BJP government. While there were only 147 cases of Christian persecution in 2014, this past year there were 327 such cases recorded. These cases are verified instances of persecution and therefore the actual numbers of persecution are likely much larger.
More voices in global leadership need to raise these concerns with the Government of India and press for greater accountability and change in India. Religious freedom and the free exercise thereof is a core component of the Indian constitution and is too often ignored by the Indian government. The international community needs to continue to amplify their voice in calling to account for the Modi administration’s attack on religious minorities.