Fear Among Christians Rises in India as Election Looms

Feature and Cover Fear Among Christians Rises in India as Election Looms

KANDHAMAL, India: In India’s Kandhamal district, the scars of brutal attacks on Christians 16 years ago still linger, evoking fear and uncertainty among the minority community. As the country braces for upcoming elections with Prime Minister Narendra Modi expected to secure another term, many Christians worry about the resurgence of violence and persecution.

The 2008 attacks, triggered by the murder of a Hindu priest, left a devastating impact, with mobs targeting Christians and leaving scores dead. Survivors like Deepti recall the horrors of that time, including incidents of gang rape and widespread sexual assault.

Last year, the Vatican initiated the beatification process for 35 individuals killed in the violence, offering a glimmer of hope for the community. However, for many, the trauma persists, overshadowing any sense of closure or justice.

The looming elections add to the apprehension, especially amid concerns of rising Hindu nationalism and the BJP’s alleged agenda to convert India into a Hindu state. Reports of attacks against Christians across the country further fuel anxiety, with memories of past atrocities still fresh.

Despite reassurances from political leaders, including Modi, many Christians remain wary, fearing a repeat of past violence. The recent inauguration of a temple in Ayodhya, a site marked by historical religious tensions, served as a stark reminder of the challenges faced by religious minorities in India.

While efforts are made to foster inclusivity and dispel fears, the specter of communal discord looms large, casting a shadow of doubt on the promise of religious freedom and harmony in the country. As Kandhamal’s survivors navigate between fear and hope, the road ahead remains uncertain, with the need for genuine reconciliation and peace more urgent than ever.

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