A very primitive method of influencing elections in any country is by claiming that the incumbents and their supporters are persecuting certain religious or cultural minorities. With merely three months to go for the all-important general elections in India, it is but given that absolutely fake surveys and reports will be carried out, and will hence be shared shamelessly by Indian media without an iota of research on the authenticity of such reports. Today, we are about to debunk one such absolutely baseless and fake survey by ‘Open Doors’, a ‘Christian mission’ claiming to support persecuted Christians worldwide.
In a report carried by Open Doors, it has opined that the Asian and Sub-Saharan nations, including India, are extremely dangerous for Christians. It says ”One in every three Christians in Asia faces risk of persecution”. While we are not discussing Asia as a whole, we definitely will destroy Open Doors for their baseless claims about India.
To begin with, there is a direct attribution of the so-called rise in Christian persecution to Narendra Modi. The report wants readers to believe that the primary reason for this ‘rise’ in persecution is the current establishment of India, headed by Narendra Modi. To quote from the report, “Since May 2014 the central government of India is in the hands of the BJP. All over the country the level of impunity for Hindu radicals committing atrocities against religious and ethnic minorities has gone up. Christians are suffering more than ever from daily attacks.”
“Hindus see Christians as a threat to the nation (because of their growth in numbers and strong presence in the tribal regions). The number of violent incidents in which Christians have been attacked has gone up dramatically since May 2014, when the BJP took over power and their candidate, Narendra Modi, became India’s Prime Minister. Since the government refuses to take proper action, Hindu radicals feel they can attack Christians with impunity.”
The report claims that the rise in Christian persecution is due to ‘Religious Nationalism’ in India. It further says that the supporters of the BJP want to convert India into a ‘Hindu-only’ nation. It says that an ‘intolerant form of Hinduism’ is driving this persecution. Let us, therefore, look at the statistics on which this entire report is based.
The report claims that from a period beginning from 1st November 2016 to 31st October 2018, a total of 36,324 Christians were attacked! The number of Christians arrested as per the report is 842 for the said time period. Now you must be thinking that these statistics are backed by strong and authentic data? Well, Open Doors probably thought that providing three vague incidents would authenticate these tall and unsubstantiated claims. It’s true! The report, after putting out these huge fake numbers could only manage to get three incidents! The report quotes:
“Examples of specific persecution in the reporting period
• On 19 June 2018, five Christian women (aged 20-35) were performing a street play in Jharkhand when they were abducted and then gang-raped in a forest on 19 June 2018.
• On 20 January 2018 the body of a Pastor Gideon Periyaswamy in Adaiyalachery (Kanchipuram
District, Tamil Nadu) was found hung from the thatched roof of his house, a week after he complained to police about opposition from radical Hindus. (Sources: Open Doors research, AsiaNews).
• On 14 December 2017, a carol-singing group belonging to St Ephrem’s Theological College in Satna,
Madhya Pradesh was detained by police. The group comprising 30 seminarians and two priests were arrested on the main road as they were moving to Christian institutions in Satna town singing carols,
a normal activity during the Christmas season. The police detained them following a complaint from right wing Hindu activists, who accused them of being involved in the religious conversion, a charge often leveled against Christians to target them. (Source: International Christian Concern).”
This is all they have! moreover, the sources of these incidents too, have questionable credentials. The report very proudly and with a deep sense of confidence claims that the above-given statistics are definitely faith-related and that these huge numbers of Christians have been targeted merely for being Christians. Well, but where is the proof? Or is it that these numbers are as fake as claims of ‘rising intolerance’ following fake news that BJP supporters were attacking churches in Delhi in 2015? We all are aware of how that narrative fell flat, just as this one is about to. The report by ‘Open Doors’ also says that the practice of untouchability is very much prevalent in India and that the country is ruled only by the ‘upper castes’. It further says that discrimination is very common in India. It is safe to say that this bogus report reeks of colonialism and the authors have no idea whatsoever of India’s current status. They make flimsy claims of the Hindus wanting to drive other communities out of the country. In fact, the entire report is based on abject lies. There are no comprehensive citations of sources for the given information or the methodology employed. It is safe to say there was no methodology and, in fact, this report on India is merely an accumulation of isolated cases to paint a generalized image of Christian persecution. The report gives India a score of 83/100. It, as a sub-note gives an inconsequential explanation of the scoring, maybe to hijack the minds of the reader to believe that the report is truly comprehensive. However, we know it is an absolute farce. The report, as mentioned above, cites only three vague examples where Christians have been targeted. This, however, does not prevent them from categorizing India in the bracket of countries where ‘Christian persecution’ is ‘extreme’. It is evident that this organization is extremely Hindu phobic and has inherent hate for India, so much so that they depict J&K and Arunachal Pradesh not as a part of India. This should have been enough for the Indian media to boycott this report instead of giving it undeserving coverage. But Indian media does not work that way.
What is more shocking, however, is the impeccable timing of Indian media outlets to give prominent coverage to this bogus report. Till the time of having written this article, News 18, Indiatimes and The New Indian Express carried this report with titillating headlines. It is a crying shame that our media outlets can publish such propaganda reports without proper scrutiny of the same. Isn’t it an unmentioned rule in journalism to question even the claims of one’s own parents? How then can sections of Indian media carry this report, considering everything mentioned in it to be true? Perhaps, there are either ulterior motivations in sections of the media, or there exists a strange inferiority complex, such that anything ‘foreign’ is de-facto considered to be true. If we name foreign media, then outlets like The Guardian, Forbes, Express UK, Fox News, CBN News were among others to carry this shoddy report. All in all, the purpose of the report has been well served: Getting worldwide coverage for a false report which has the potential to influence elections.
We can expect shoddy reports like that of ‘Open Doors’ to increase their frequency as the elections to India inch closer. It is, however, our responsibility to fact check such biased reports and surveys and debunk their lies if found guilty. To expect such noble deeds from the media will only disappoint all, hence, it is only us, independent portals and citizens who have the spine to expose vicious lies of foreign agencies with clearly biased motivations.
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