Under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party-led government, India continues to climb up the World Watch List. India jumped from the 15th worst country in the world for Christian persecution in 2017 to the 11th in 2018.
Samuel and Benida are underground Christian ministry leaders from New Delhi who told CP that the goal of the BJP, a right-wing party closely linked with the RSS Hindu nationalist group, is to make sure India remains a "Hindu nation."
"So [Hindu extremist] ideology is the same ISIS had," Samuel told CP, referring to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. "They want to make sure that by any way, they want to bring that kingdom of God to their understanding,"
Christian persecution in the Hindu nation has gotten so bad that Samuel and Benida's ministry can't even transfer kids to a Christian summer Bible camp without being stopped and arrested.
The couple told CP that 10 of their ministry partners and about 70 children were detained last May by railway police when they were trying to transport the children to a Bible camp in the predominantly-Hindu Madhya Pradesh.
The 10 chaperones were charged with the crime of trying to forcefully convert Hindu children to Christianity. Such an act would be a violation of the Madhya Pradesh Religious Freedom Act.
Although the children were Christians sent to the camp by their parents, the government claimed that the children had Hindu last names and didn't have legal recognition as Christians, Samuel and Benida explained.
"In India, a Hindu name is very general so they see that they have a Hindu name and they say they are not Christian," Benida said.
Samuel explained that many Indians fear going through the legal formalities to officially change their religion to Christianity.
Samuel has noticed the rise in attacks on Christians since the BJP came to power in 2014 and explained that Hindu fundamentalists have been emboldened to carry out more egregious acts of persecution.
"The fundamentalists used to come to church just to disturb the worship services. Now, when they come, they not only just disturb the worship service, they beat up the pastor very severely. Even women and children, they beat them up, even older people," Samuel said. "There are many, many incidents that have happened where there are attackings on the pastors and people, they always attack on their head so that it will have a maximum impact on their life. If they don't die, at least they won't live a normal life."
"They do these planned attacks on the church, to destroy the church and to wipe the church out of the country and they have this intention," Samuel added. "When BJP government came into power in 2014, one of the RSS leaders said that by 31st December of 2021, 'We will wipe out the Christians from the country.'"
According to Samuel, most the attacks on Christians in India go "unpunished" by local authorities.
"Most people get acquittal in the court of the law because the justice is political against the Christians," Samuel said.