Christians fear greater persecution after Kashmir loses special status

After the revocation of Kashmir’s special status, Christians in the region are fearful that the change will lead to a wave of Hindu ultra-nationalism and with it, an increase in persecution.

Before the Indian government revoked Article 370 of the Indian Constitution last week, the Muslim-majority region had enjoyed special autonomous status, with its own flag, separate constitution and internal administration.

Many Christians in Kashmir are former Muslims who face pressure within their communities because of their conversion.  Now they fear that they will see an increase in persecution under a Hindu ultra-nationalist agenda, Open Doors reports.

There are also concerns that the anti-conversion laws that have made life increasingly difficult for India’s Christians will now be applied to Kashmir.

The laws have been introduced to several Indian states and effectively make it a crime for individuals to convert from the Hindu faith to Christianity, or to seek to persuade Hindus to change their faith.

Hindu radicals are calling to impose the anti-conversion legislation at the national level.

Dr Matthew Rees from Open Doors said: “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. 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.”