Christians in India are 'living mostly in fear at present'

A man climbs down after partially chipping out the cross from the entrance of his house, after taking part in a religion conversion ceremony from Christianity to Hinduism, at Hasayan town in Uttar Pradesh August 29, 2014.Reuters/Adnan Abidi

Christians in India are living in a climate of fear because of a hostile state and a minority of radicals who don't want them in the country, a bishop has warned. 

Bishop Kishore Kumar Kujur, of Rourkela in Odisha, eastern India, told Aid to the Church in Need that the government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi was being supported by anti-minority "right-wing" groups and that it was "causing problems" for Christians. 

"Christians are living mostly in fear at present – much more [so] in the north, where they are a minority," he said. 

The bishop said that, in general, Christians in India are "seen as foreigners and as not belonging to India".

"We are told to go back to where we came from," he said. 

"Christians are not in Modi's good books. They are seen as converting the others to Christianity, which the government does not want."

He said that while Hindus "generally" had goodwill towards their Christian neighbours, there was "a minority which are radicalised who have taken over the government".

He added that many people were too afraid to stand up for the rights of Christians. 

"The majority keep quiet. They don't stand up for us and protect our rights and maintain justice. They keep quiet and are afraid," he said. 

READ MORE: Why Indians choose to follow Jesus despite opposition

International Christian Concern reports that Hindu extremists partly livestreamed an attack on a church on Facebook last month. 

Members of the church were beaten when the extremists disrupted a worship service on September 8, but the authorities allegedly jailed the church leaders and their families instead of the attackers. 

The attack occurred in Koderma District in Jharkhand State, in the north-east.  It has been blamed on youth militant group Bajrang Dal. 

The attackers are reported to have torn up Bibles, broken objects in the church, and stolen the offering box. 

One of the perpetrators went live on Facebook with footage of the Christians who had been forced out of the building. 

Before ending the livestream, he said: "Our job is to make this area free of Christianity."

Church pastor Manohar Prasad Varnwa told ICC that police had forced him to sign a document promising not to preach the Gospel or lead prayers, something the police denied.