Disturbing escalation in anti-christian violence

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Disturbing data released by the United Christian Forum (UCF) reveals a concerning rise in targeted violence against Christians in India, with 687 incidents throughout 2023. This unsettling trend continues a worrying pattern since 2014, solidifying India’s position as the eleventh worst country globally for the persecution of Christians, according to the Open Doors World Watch annual ranking.

Despite constitutional guarantees under Article 25, which affirms the right to choose any religion, India has seen an escalation in violence against Christians. The UCF, which operates a toll-free helpline (1-800-208-4545), reported 147 incidents in 2014, escalating to 687 by November 2023.

Disturbingly, “Freedom of Religion Acts,” colloquially referred to as “anti-conversion laws,” exist in 11 out of 28 states, requiring individuals to seek government permission to follow a religion of their choice—a measure contrary to UN conventions.

The UCF’s data for January to November 2023 shows a troubling pattern, with an average of over two incidents per day across 23 states. The epicentre of this violence is concentrated in four North Indian states: Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Haryana, where 531 out of 687 incidents were reported. Uttar Pradesh tops the list with 287 incidents.

The UCF release states that between January and November 2023, it received reports of “687 incidents of violence against Christians in 23 states of India, which is little over two (2) incidents a day in a secular and democratic country. Out of the total 687 incidents, 531 incidents have taken place in 4 states of North India, namely: Uttar Pradesh with 287 incidents, 148 in Chhattisgarh, 49 in Jharkhand, and 47 in Haryana.”

“Thirty five 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, 1 each in Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Chandigarh, and Daman & Diu,” the UCF elaborated.

The incidents typically involve vigilante mobs of religious extremists interrupting prayer gatherings or targeting individuals they suspect of engaging in forcible religious conversions. In many instances, these mobs criminally threaten or physically assault individuals before handing them over to the police on allegations of forcible conversions.

The report also highlights orchestrated attacks on Christians in states like Chhattisgarh in 2022 and Manipur in 2023, where over 1,000 Adivasi Christians were displaced, and 175 lost their lives, respectively. The scale of violence in Manipur includes over 5,000 cases of arson and 254 churches burnt and vandalised.

The release ends by stating that “Despite widespread international condemnation of the impunity that attackers face, national and state governments have done little to ensure justice.” It points to a report by the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) that reveals a troubling collaboration between the police and Hindutva groups, with authorities turning a blind eye to offences committed against Christians.

© Christian Today India

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