The chief of a Hindu nationalist group has launched a nationwide campaign against “forcible” conversions to Christianity.
In a media interview, Milind Parande, the General Secretary of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, or World Hindu Council, claimed that Hindus were being forced to convert to Christianity and Islam.
“They (Christian missionaries) are destroying the ancient culture and indigenous religion of the tribals (aborigines),” Parande told the Times of India. “They are resorting to trafficking of their children. The VHP will not allow this heinous conspiracy to succeed.”
“Issues like love jihad, where Hindu girls are lured to marry Muslims, are also being brought back. Every year, we bring back at least 2,000 people who have got converted.”
Several Indian states have had draconian “anti-conversion” laws, termed as Freedom of Religion Acts, for decades but no Christian has been convicted of “forcibly” converting anyone to Christianity.
Most attacks on Christians are launched under the pretext of the alleged “forcible” conversion of Hindus.
According to India’s own population data, the conspiracy of mass conversions to Christianity does not hold up, says the U.S.-based persecution watchdog International Christian Concern. “In 1951, the first census after independence, Christians made up only 2.3% of India’s overall population. According to the 2011 census, the most recent census data available, Christians still only make up 2.3% of the population.”
Attacks on Christians have been on the rise since Narendra Modi of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party took office as prime minister in 2014.
“Since the current ruling party took power in 2014, incidents against Christians have increased, and Hindu radicals often attack Christians with little to no consequences,” noted Open Doors’ World Watch List, which ranked India as the 10th worst country for Christians.