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India sees 'sharp rise' in violence against Christians

First half of last year saw 274 incidents, so far this year 400 have been recorded, Christian rights group says
Catholics from Delhi archdiocese pray during an annual rally on Palm Sunday on April 9, 2017

Catholics from Delhi archdiocese pray during an annual rally on Palm Sunday on April 9, 2017.(Photo: Bijay Kumar Minj)

Published: July 12, 2023 06:31 AM GMT
Updated: July 12, 2023 10:15 AM GMT

A human rights group that keeps track of violence against Christians in India has confirmed 400 incidents in the first half of this year, with the northern state of Uttar Pradesh topping the list.

The New-Delhi based United Christian Forum (UCF) said 274 incidents of violence against Christians were reported from 23 states during the same period last year.

In a statement on July 11, UCF, an inter-denominational Christian organization, said the incidents of violence were registered on UCF's toll-free number this year up to June.

Uttar Pradesh, which is also India’s most populous state, saw the highest number with 155 cases so far this year.

Among these incidents in the state, 13 were reported from Jaunpur district, 11 were recorded in both Raebareli and Sitapur districts, Kanpur had 10 and there were nine each from Azamgarh and Kushinagar districts. 

Among districts nationwide, Bastar in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh occupies the top slot with 31 incidents of violence, UCF said.

"There are nearly two dozen states which are anti-Christian"

June saw the highest number of incidents against Christians with 88 cases, which translates into three per day. 

“Violence in the northeastern state of Manipur has been raging for over two months and hundreds of churches and many precious lives have been lost,” UCF said.

Last year in the same period, January witnessed the highest number of attacks on Christians with 121 incidents, almost four incidents per day.

There are nearly two dozen states which are anti-Christian, according to the UCF, most of which are ruled by the pro-Hindu party of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and have enacted a sweeping anti-conversion law.

Aside from Uttar Pradesh and Manipur,  Chhattisgarh saw 84 incidents, Jharkhand 35, Haryana 32, Madhya Pradesh 21, Punjab 12, Karnataka 10, Bihar nine, Jammu & Kashmir eight, and Modi’s home state of Gujarat seven.

Uttarakhand, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Himachal Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Delhi, Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Chandigarh and Goa witnessed fewer than five untoward incidents against Christians.

According to UCF, there has been an alarming hike in violence against Christians since 2014, when Modi first came to power.  In 2014, some 147 incidents were reported.

UCF said that in most cases, police fail to file cases against the perpetrators, who often belong to fringe elements of Modi’s political outfit – the Bharatiya Janata Party.

"It is worrying to see these horrendous acts of mobocracy"

India goes to the polls next year where Modi will seek a third consecutive term in office.

There are 63 cases filed against Christians on false allegations of conversion under the sweeping anti-conversion law, the UCF said.

Nearly 35 pastors have been jailed and are repeatedly denied bail. Those who have secured bail are still incarcerated due to bureaucratic complacency. 

The pattern followed is the same — a mob accompanied by police arrives at a place of worship, disrupts the prayer meeting and beats the faithful, including women and children, and police file cases under the draconian law, according to the UCF.

Though several delegations have met Modi and President Draupadi Murmu, there is hardly any respite. 

The call by India’s top court to end violence against Christians and other minorities has fallen on deaf ears, the forum said.

It is worrying to see these horrendous acts of mobocracy still continuing even after a slew of directives to the government from the Supreme Court, A.C. Michael, the UCF's national coordinator, told UCA News on July 11.

Michael, also president of the Federation of Catholic Associations of Delhi archdiocese, said, “It is high time special laws were enacted to instill a sense of fear of the law among those who involve themselves in mob violence.”

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1 Comments on this Story
JOHN MASCARENHAS
i call upon the christian leaders in india to ask the supreme court to clarify: 1) WHY DOES A PERSON ALLEGED OF A CRIME HAVE TO PROVE HIS INNOCENCE? IS IT NOT THE LAW THAT STATES' A PERSON IS INNOCENT TILL PROVEN GUILTY'? 2) WHY DOES ANYONE WHO REPORTS FALSE CASES GO UNPUNISHED? IS IT NOT THE COURTS DUTY TO PUNISH THESE CRIMINALS WHO ACCUSE OTHERS WITH FALSE CASES? 3) THE POLICE ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO REGISTER A CASE OF CONVERSION UNLESS DEMANDED BY FAMILY MEMEBERS. WHY DO THE POLICE STILL PUT INNOCENT PEOPLE INTO PRISON JUST ON FALSE ALLEGATIONS FROM THE CRIMINAL BAJRANG DAL AND HINDU VISHWA PARISHED?
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