MUMBAI, India – A Catholic priest in India says “crisis, conflict and violence are becoming the way of life” in the country, after it suffered a rebuke in the U.S. State Department’s 2023 religious freedom report issued this week.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the U.S. government is concerned about the increase in anti-conversion laws, hate speech, demolitions of homes and places of worship of members of minority faith communities in India.

“Christian communities reported that local police aided mobs that disrupted worship services over accusations of conversion activities, or stood by while mobs attacked them and then arrested the victims on conversion charges,” Blinken said on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi secured a third term earlier this month, but his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) failed to achieve outright parliamentary majority in the Lok Sabha, the lower house.

The BJP has strong links to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a militant Hindu nationalist organization.

Since it took over the national government in 2014, religious minorities have complained about increased harassment.

Jesuit Father Prakash Louis said civil society organizations have in India been raising their voice against the violence unleashed on the minority Muslim and Christian communities.

“Two years passed since this illustrious former civil servants had appealed to Mr. Modi to enforce rule of law in the country. But nothing has happened,” he told Crux.

“On the other hand, crisis, conflict and violence are becoming the way of life of the country. What is more deplorable is that rulers themselves are engaged in divisive and destructive politics today. It was reported by Deccan Herald on the June 23, 2024, that the Madhya Pradesh government on Saturday invoked the draconian National Security Act (NSA) against two Muslim men accused of involvement in an alleged cow slaughter,” Louis said.

Cows are considered sacred in Hinduism, and the eating of cow meat is illegal in several areas.

“This appears to be an one-sided case, hearing, and verdict. What is more abominable is the statement of the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh is ‘No crime against gau mata (mother cow) will be tolerated. Every accused involved in the case would face tough action’,” the Jesuit priest told Crux.

“Train accidents are recurrent resulting in the loss of lives of many poor and destruction of property. Monsoon has not set in many parts of north India leaving the farmers in tears since they cannot transplant paddy. But no one bothers to say anything about these national calamities,” he said.

The United Christians Forum released a report in July 2023 stating that till July 2023, there have been over 400 atrocities on Christians in 23 states.

The large state of Uttar Pradesh leads with 155 incidents, followed by the states of Chhattisgarh with 84 incidents, Jharkhand with 35, Haryana with 32, and Madhya Pradesh with 21 incidents.

“After the Modi government took over the reins in June 2024, atrocities on the Christians is all the more on the increase,” Louis told Crux.

“Under the sinister plan of establishing a ‘Hindu Rashtra’ there is an attempt to unify some sections of Hindus by unleashing violence on the Muslims and Christians,” he said.

However, Louis says the fact the BJP failed to receive a majority in parliament could help re-establish India as a secular country.

“Forced to run a coalition government since the people did not give a clear majority, it is hoped that the present regime would not engage in minority bashing for majority appeasement,” he said.