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India

India records spike in anti-Christian violence this year

Christians are under increasing attack across the nation, reveals latest fact-finding report

India records spike in anti-Christian violence this year

A fact-finding report on the increasing violence against Christians in India is released at a press conference in New Delhi on Oct. 21. (Photo: Bijay Kumar Minj/UCA New)

India has witnessed a significant rise in violence against Christians this year with 305 incidents recorded across 21 states during the past nine months. Surprisingly, official cognizance of the targeted violence was lax with only 30 complaints registered by police so far.

September had the highest number of incidents with 69, followed by 50 in August, 37 in January, 33 in July, 27 each in March, April and June, 20 in February and 15 in May.

These figures were published in a fact-finding report by the Association for the Protection of Civil Rights (APCR) and United Against Hate and United Christian Forum (UCF) and released at a press conference in New Delhi on Oct. 21

Christian Prio Sadhana Lanse and her daughters Pearl and Eva from Roorkee presented horrific details of the attack they suffered.

Eva recalled how an armed mob of around 200 shouting slogans like "Jai Shri Ram" (Hail Lord Ram) and "Vande Mataram" (I bow to thee, motherland) barged in, vandalized a prayer house and manhandled the Christian faithful on Oct. 3.

“We feel unsafe there and fear for our lives,” she said, adding that police made no arrests despite naming the main attackers in their complaints with evidence of the violence and destruction they caused.

There has been no significant change in the percentage of the Christian population — in fact, their numbers are reducing

UCF’s national coordinator A.C. Michael said: “We have all the documentary proof of the attacks on Christians. The Hindu activists behind the attacks blame us for religious conversion activities but have no proof.”

They spread canards suggesting that people who study in missionary schools convert to Christianity, but “if that was true most of the educated people in this country would have been Christian,” he said.

Uttar Pradesh in northern India ruled by the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) topped the list with 66 incidents of attacks this year, followed by Congress-ruled Chhattisgarh (47), tribal people’s Jharkhand Mukti Morcha-ruled Jharkhand (30) and BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh (26).

Karnataka in the south, also ruled by the BJP, witnessed a spurt in violence against Christians with 32 incidents.

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Women bore the brunt of the targeted violence with 1,331 suffering injuries. Tribal people (588 injured) and Dalits (513 injured) were the other major targets.

There were 23 incidents of churches being damaged or vandalized in mob attacks while Sunday prayers and other religious activities of Christians were prevented by local administrative and police authorities in 85 incidents, mostly citing “conversion activities” as alleged by perpetrators of the violence.

There has been a spurt of false cases alleging religious conversion by Christians across India ever since the BJP came to power in the country and in many of the provinces in 2014.

Uttarakhand state in the Himalayas became the ninth Indian state to enact a religious conversion law in 2018. The other states with such laws in place are Arunachal Pradesh, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand and Tamil Nadu.

The fact-finding report contains detailed testimonies of the victims of some 90 incidents of hate crimes against Christians in India

Minakshi Singh, general secretary of Unity in Compassion, said Christians were being falsely accused of carrying out religious conversions but the census data told a different story.

“There has been no significant change in the percentage of the Christian population — in fact, their numbers are reducing,” she said.

The fact-finding report contains detailed testimonies of the victims of some 90 incidents of hate crimes against Christians in India.

The UCF also sent a letter to the federal Minority Affairs Ministry on Oct. 11 drawing its attention to the increase in targeted violence and hostility against Christians citing the bogey of religious conversions.

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