Christians Suffering at the Intersection of Persecution and the Pandemic in India

On May 31, 2021, Indian authorities took four Christian family members into custody. According to local reports, the four Christians were accused by radical Hindu nationalists of breaking COVID-19 lockdown protocols and violating the state’s anti-conversion laws by merely gathering in their own home for prayer.

Ramesh Damor (name changed for security reasons), his two brothers, and his father endured 12 hours of police interrogations. In the end, the police made the Christians write a letter of apology for breaking the COVID-19 protocol by having an indoor prayer gathering as a family.

When speaking to International Christian Concern (ICC), Ramesh said, “I am already under trial in the High Court on false charges of illegal conversion activities. I spent three months in jail before I received bail in April.”

Hindu radicals are using my vulnerable situation to harass and intimidate me,” Ramesh continued. “However, God is faithful, and He is my strength.”

Across India, ICC is documenting incidents of persecution where radical Hindu nationalists use the pandemic as a weapon against Christians. In some cases, Christians are falsely accused of breaking COVID-19 protocols. In other cases, wild conspiracy theories regarding the pandemic are attached to Christians to spread intolerance and fear.

On May 22, Dr. Sandhya Tiwary, a Christian, participated in door-to-door medical visits to check on COVID-19 patients in Baina, a village in Madhya Pradesh. Hindu radicals falsely accused her of engaging in illegal conversion activities and recorded a video of Dr. Tiwary offering prayer for the sick.