India: Hindu flags forcibly installed on the roofs of several churches

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On the eve of the inauguration of the Ram Mandir temple in Uttar Pradesh, flags representing Hindu deities were forcibly installed by nationalists on the roofs of several churches in neighboring states. 

Le Ram Mandir is a Hindu temple in India dedicated to Ram Lalla and located in the city of Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh. Inaugurated on January 22, 2024, construction began in 2020.

This temple, a symbol of Hindu pride and nationalism, was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. International Christian Concern (ICC) reports that the Hindu worship venue was built on the rubble of the 16th-century Babri Masjid mosque, destroyed by an angry nationalist mob decades ago. Muslims and Christians, from religious minorities, have thus been reminded of their inferior status in Indian society. 

“Only God can intervene”

Also, on the eve of the inauguration, saffron flags representing Hindu deities were installed by nationalists on the roofs of four churches in Jhabua, a district of the state of Madhya Pradesh, neighboring state of Uttar Pradesh, in central India. According to ICC sources, a crowd of radicals entered these churches by force, in the face of powerless Christians. 

The same day, a similar incident took place in another state, Chhattisgarh, where a Hindu flag was installed on the roof of a pastor's house. He was threatened by the crowd who promised him violent reprisals if he removed it. Later that evening, the Christian leader was taken into custody and then imprisoned on trumped-up charges of disorder. 

A Christian, who wished to remain anonymous, explains that in India minorities feel "increased psychological fear and anxiety". "No rule of law can help resolve this situation, and what's more, there exists deep within every Christian an unexplained feeling of sanctification and repression about what is happening in this country," he said. continued, believing that “only God can intervene” in this situation. 

India is ranked 11th in theWorld Index of Persecution of Christians 2024 of the NGO Portes Ouvertes. The organization indicates that “since 2014, persecution against Christians has increased considerably” and that they suffer “severe violence”. Also for for the third year in a row, the majority of Christians imprisoned in the name of their faith are in India. The Index reveals that 2 Christians are detained in the Asian country.

Camille Westphal Perrier

Image credit: Shutterstock / Roshp

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