The first six months of 2019 witnessed 158 incidents of violence against Christians in 23 states of India, in which 110 women and 89 children were also injured: this is stated in a note sent to Fides, News Agency by the United Christian Forum (UCF), an organization that has activated a specific helpline and assistance in cases of violence.
According to the note, among the 158 incidents recorded by “Helpline”, 130 relate to attacks or intimidation and threats by violent mobs that beat up faithful assembled peacefully in church or house-church for prayer. This means that “practicing one’s faith is becoming dangerous to life in over 90 percent of the Indian territory”, bemoans the forum.
“Mob violence has become a norm in the country with no political party taking a strong position against such acts of violence against religious minorities”, regrets a UCF press release.
Another disturbing trend is the refusal of the police file “First Information Record” (FIR) against violence perpetrators. “Only 24 incidents out of 158 have FIRs registered against them”, the press release says. It also notes that “the police inaction” was noted in 11 states are under the rule of so-called secular parties as against 12 states under the rule of the pro-Hindu National Democratic Alliance. Among the States in which violence against Christians is reported: Uttar Pradesh continues to witness the highest number of incidents with 32 incidents of violence reported against Christians followed by 31 incidents in Tamil Nadu.
“Modus operandi followed in all these incidents is almost same. A mob accompanied by the police arrives at the prayer service shouts slogans, beats up the congregations including women and children. Then the pastors are arrested or detained by the police under the false allegation of conversion”, explains the note.
“Sadly, these incidents have become so common nobody has time to condemn them including political, civil society and religious leaders”, note the forum.
The UCF also notes a consistent increase in the violence against Christians since 2014. “There were about 150 in 2014 which went closer to 200 in 2015 then over 200 in 2016. 2017 and 2018 touched 250 and 300 respectively. The year 2019 is already witnessing 26 incidents per month”.
“Nobody should be persecuted because of their faith. It is worrying to see these horrendous acts of mobocracy still continuing even after a slew of directions to the government from the Supreme Court Bench. The police and local administration who are responsible for law and order, must take quick action against anyone who involves themselves in mob violence”, says Tehmina Arora, director of the India unit of Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), an association committed to protecting Christian rights.
According to media reports, often these anti-Christian acts are carried out by Hindu extremist groups and fomented by “religious hate speeches” promoted on the web and on social networks. According to the ADF, anti-Christian sentiments and acts in India have increased since the federal government has been led by the Hindu nationalist party of Prime Minister Narendra Modi who in 2019 started his second term.
In India, there are 966 million Hindu citizens, that is 80% of the Indian population who on the whole touches 1.3 billion people. Muslims are 172 million (about 14%) while Christians are 29 million (2.3%).