Christians in Kashmir fear new wave of persecution

The Indian government revoked the special status of Indian-administered Kashmir in its constitution on 5th August, the most far-reaching political move on the disputed region in nearly 70 years.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi revoked Article 370 of the Indian constitution that guaranteed special rights to the Muslim-majority state, including the right to its own constitution and autonomy to make laws on all matters, except defence, communications and foreign affairs, as Al Jazeera reported.

Telephone networks and the internet were cut off in the region in the days before the presidential order was announced. Public gatherings were banned, and tens of thousands of troops were sent in. Tourists were told to leave Kashmir under warnings of a terror threat, according to BBC.

“The tensions in Kashmir are very worrying for religious minorities across India and particularly for those living in Kashmir. This includes the local Christian population, many of whom are from a Muslim background and already experiencing severe pressure from their community,” Dr Matthew Rees from religious freedom charity Open Doors said to Premier Radio.

“Sources in Kashmir have told Open Doors that they are concerned that this latest development will increase the already high levels of fear amongst the minority communities in the Kashmir. The events in the region make it very clear that no minority in India can expect any level of special protection,” he continues.

Christians in India are 64 millions, making up only the 5 per cent of India’s population of 1.3 billion.

Christians in India face horrific levels of violence from extremists, with thousands of attacks taking place every year. Several states in India have brought in anti-conversion laws, and the Hindu nationalists have made it clear that they would like to make these laws nationwide, Open Doors denounced in their annual report World Watch List 2019.

Cover pic: Kravtzov @ Shutterstock.com

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