UCA News

Increase in violence against Indian Christians: report

Evangelical Fellowship of India records a rise in Christian persecution in 2023 compared with the previous year
Catholics in the Archdiocese of Delhi pray at the feast of Christ the King on Nov. 24, 2018.

Catholics in the Archdiocese of Delhi pray at the feast of Christ the King on Nov. 24, 2018. (Photo: Bijay Kumar Minj)

Published: March 25, 2024 11:25 AM GMT
Updated: March 26, 2024 04:23 AM GMT

The Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI) has said that persecution against Christians increased spectacularly in the country last year with the northern state of Uttar Pradesh topping the list.

In its annual report, published on March 21, the EFI noted that incidents targeting Christians and their institutions in the country climbed from 413 in 2022 to 601 in 2023.

“The rapidly deteriorating situation for religious minorities is a matter of grave concern,” Reverend Vijayesh Lal, general secretary of the EFI, told UCA News on March 25.

The report, compiled by the Religious Liberty Commission of the EFI, highlights several regional hotspots where Christians face violence.

Uttar Pradesh, India's most populous state, emerged as the most hostile place with 279 cases and an unprecedented arrest of 440 Christians including pastors under a sweeping anti-conversion law, which the pro-Hindu government has enacted in the state.

Chhattisgarh in central India witnessed 132 cases, followed by northern Haryana with 43 incidents.

The report also highlighted the ongoing sectarian strife in northeastern Manipur where the death toll has already crossed 220, most of them tribal Christians.

Lal added that “Christians, especially pastors in rural areas, were victims of violence, had their prayers disturbed, and places of worship attacked” last year.

Lal said that the “false narrative of forced conversion is being repeatedly exploited to justify horrific crimes of violence” by the fringe elements of the pro-Hindu groups.

Tribal Christians and former untouchables (Dalits) have become the most vulnerable group among Christians, Lal observed.

The report said the proposed Uniform Civil Code law by many state governments, most of them ruled by the pro-Hindu party of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, will wreak havoc on India’s affirmative action program, which is meant to aid tribal people and Dalits.

India is going to polls next month and Modi is seeking a third consecutive term in office.

“As we approach general elections in 2024, the Indian government must uphold the rule of law and safety of minorities,” Lal noted.

The EFI, founded in 1951, is a national alliance of evangelical Christians. It has over 54 denominations as its members.

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