Friday, March 1, 2024

Two Christians attacked daily in India – 687 incidents of violence recorded in 334 days of 2023

India is ranked as the eleventh-worst country for the persecution of Christians in the Open Doors World Watch annual ranking, with the United Christian Forum (UCF), an Indian Christian body, reporting an average of two anti-Christian incidents per day in the country.

According to the UCF, which offers a toll-free helpline service (1-800-208-4545) to those in distress and unfamiliar with the law and system, there were 147 incidents of violence against Christians in 2014. The numbers increased to 177 in 2015, 208 in 2016, 240 in 2017, 292 in 2018, 328 in 2019, 279 in 2020, 505 in 2021, 599 in 2022, and 687 in 2023 until November.

“This is in spite of Article 25 of the Indian Constitution which guarantees the right to choose any religion of one’s choice. In our country, today, we have so called “Freedom of Religion Acts” which is popularly known as “anti- conversion laws” in 11 out of the 28 states wherein a person living in India is expected to seek permission from the government to follow a religion of his/her choice by filing written information to a revenue officer in contravention to UN convention,” read a note by United Christian Forum.

From January to November 2023, UCF documented 687 reports of violence against Christians in 23 states of India, averaging just over two incidents per day in the country. Among these incidents, 531 occurred in four states in North India—specifically, Uttar Pradesh with 287, Chhattisgarh with 148, Jharkhand with 49, and Haryana with 47 cases.

35 incidents of violence against Christians in Madhya Pradesh, 21 in Karnataka, 18 in Punjab, 14 in Bihar, 8 each in Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, and Jammu & Kashmir, 7 each in Rajasthan and Orissa, 6 each in Delhi and Maharashtra, 4 each in Uttarakhand, West Bengal, and Himachal Pradesh, 2 in Assam, and 1 each in Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Chandigarh, and Daman & Diu.

“In almost all incidents reported across India, vigilante mobs comprising religious extremists have been seen to either barge into a prayer gathering or round up individuals that they believe are involved in forcible religious conversions. With impunity, such mobs criminally threaten and/or physically assault people in prayer, before handing them over to the police on allegations of forcible conversions. Often communal sloganeering is witnessed outside police stations, where the police stand as mute spectators,” the UCF said.

It went on to say: “There are other states too which saw well orchestrated attacks on Christians. Last year, 2022, it was Chhattisgarh due to which over 1000 Adivasi Christians were displaced from their own homes and villages. This year, 2023, Manipur saw the worst ever violence wherein 175 died and over 1000 individuals severely injured. Over 5000 cases of arson and 254 churches burnt and vandalised.”

“Despite widespread international condemnation of the impunity that attackers face, national and state governments have done little to ensure justice. A report titled Criminalising Practice of Faith published by PUCL documented that police colluded with Hindutva groups and turned a blind eye to offences committed against Christians,” the Christian body said.

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