Updated: July 12, 2021 09:33 AM GMT
Catholics pray during the annual rally on Palm Sunday in Delhi Archdiocese on April 9, 2017. (Photo: Bijay Kumar Minj/UCA News)
A human rights group that monitors atrocities against Christians in India says it has confirmed 154 incidents of violence in 17 states in the first half of the year.
The New Delhi-based United Christian Forum (UCF) said that perhaps a new ministry of cooperation may bring a better understanding of other faiths, especially among those who oppose Christianity.
“This year hasn’t been any different for Indian Christians except that Indian Christians across the globe came together to establish an exclusive day for themselves on July 3 and launched a decade of celebrations (2021-30) to honor the 2,000th anniversary of the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ,” the UCF press note said.
The press statement dated July 10 said 154 incidents of violence were reported on the UCF toll-free helpline number against Christians across India.
The UCF is an inter-denominational Christian organization that fights for the rights of members of the Christian minority, mainly through protest.
“January witnessed the highest number of incidents with 34 followed by 28 in June, 27 in March, 26 in April, 21 in February and 16 in May,” the press release said.
The team managed to obtain the release of 84 persons from detention. Also 29 places of worship were reopened or continue to hold prayer services
The central states of Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand recorded 22 incidents of violence against Christians in the first half of the year followed by 19 in Uttar Pradesh and 17 in Karnataka.
Other states which witnessed violence against Christians for their faith are Madhya Pradesh (15), Odisha (12), Maharashtra (nine), Tamil Nadu (six), Punjab (six), Bihar (six), Andhra Pradesh (four), Uttarakhand (three), Delhi (three), Haryana (two), Gujarat (two) and one each from Telangana, West Bengal, Assam and Rajasthan.
Some 1,137 calls were received by the UCF helpline and callers were given help through advocacy and assisting in forwarding their grievances to authorities.
The team managed to obtain the release of 84 persons from detention. Also 29 places of worship were reopened or continue to hold prayer services. But only 18 first information reports could be registered against the perpetrators of violence.
Mob violence accompanied by a police team arriving at a place of worship disrupting prayer or church services and beating up the congregation including women and children as well as pastors has become a common occurrence.
This is despite a slew of directions to the government from the Supreme Court led by Chief Justice Dipak Misra to stop the horrendous acts of mobocracy.
More than 600 women and over 400 tribal people and Dalits were injured in these incidents. Some 152 incidents of mob attacks or violence were reported in the first six months of 2021 along with 18 incidents of causing damage to places of worship and churches.
Police and other authorities disallowed the assembly of people for religious activities under one pretext or the other.
Seven fresh cases were filed under the Freedom of Religion Act this year. Though such laws in certain states have been in force since 1967, not a single Christian has been convicted of forcing anyone to convert.
Moreover, the census has shown that the Christian population remained 2.3 percent of India’s population of 1. 38 billion as of 2020.