India: Extremists Are Destroying Christians’ Homes and Shattering Their Lives

July 25, 2023

Many Hindus believe that conversion to Christianity is an attack on their culture and way of life, and an imminent threat to both, despite the fact that Christianity has been a presence in India since the days of St. Thomas the Apostle. 

For previous coverage of the persecution of Christians in India, see here.

“Extremists Are Destroying Indian Christians’ Homes and Shattering Their Lives,” by Surinder Kaur, Christianity Today, July 24, 2023:

India records the highest numbers of internal displacements annually, primarily due to natural disasters. But recent communal violence and persecution against religious minorities has wreaked havoc in numerous Indian states, including Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, and Odisha.

While the government has an official legal framework for helping communities displaced by natural disasters and development projects, it has none for those displaced by violence or manmade conflict. Instead, the level of response has varied widely depending on public sympathy for the victims, media attention, and protests by those affected. Rehabilitation, including the provision of permanent shelter, jobs, and education, remains a significant challenge for the government and the church.

More than two months after the violence began in Manipur, at least 1,000 families are sheltering in Delhi, says L. Kamzamang, a pastor working with internally displaced persons (IDPs) from Manipur.

“Not only are most of the IDPs scattered in various cities and towns in India not wanting to go back to their homes, but young people who are in Manipur are planning to come out of Manipur,” said Kamzamang. “There is nothing to do there. There are no jobs, no source of income. Everything stands still. How will these young people support themselves and their families there?”

A lack of numbers

Regardless of the reason, displacement causes immense and lasting suffering and upheaval for the affected individuals and communities. It can uproot entire populations from places they have called home for up to hundreds of years and destroy livelihoods, social networks, and economic stability.

IDPs and refugees often lose their connection to the land, historical sites, sacred places, and cultural artifacts, all of which hold deep meaning for them. Displacement disrupts the transmission of cultural knowledge, traditions, and languages from one generation to another and can result in the erosion of cultural practices, customs, and beliefs that have been passed down for centuries.

When a community is dispersed and its members are scattered, the collective memory and shared experiences that form the foundation of a cultural identity can be fractured, besides disrupting education, healthcare, and basic services, and exacerbating the vulnerability of those affected. Displaced individuals may also face discrimination, marginalization, and further violence in their search for safety and stability.

India records some of the highest figures for internally displaced persons each year, according to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC). The country’s large population and socioeconomic vulnerability contributes to the scale of displacement, a situation often provoked by natural disasters.

In the last seven years, an average of over 3 million people per year have been displaced in India. In comparison, fighting in Ukraine has resulted in a total of 1.7 million IDPs between 2014 and 2021.

As for those who have been internally displaced due to violence or conflict, systemic data on those affected is virtually nonexistent due to the absence of a legal framework and the lack of government data. But in 2022 the IDMC recorded 1,000 IDPs primarily resulting from localized incidents of intercommunal (sectarian) violence.

As of late 2022 and prior to the Manipur conflict, approximately 631,000 Indians are currently displaced within the country. Many of these communities have been displaced for several decades, including 108,000 people from northeastern India, due to conflicts in northeast states Assam, Mizoram, and Tripura, and 321,000 people from northern states Jammu and Kashmir. Currently, 18 of India’s 28 states are home to IDPs….