The year 2022 sees the greatest increase in the number of incidents of violence against Christians in India.
As the year approaches Christmas, Christians in India continue to bear the onslaught of targeted violence for their faith. As per the records of the United Christian Forum (UCF) toll-free helpline number, 1800-208-4545, there is a higher growth in terms of year-on-year increase in violence as compared to 505 incidents of violence against Christians in 2021 and 511 in 2022 through November 21, according to a press release.
The UCF is an interdenominational Christian organization that uses democratic means to fight for the human rights of members of the Christian minority.
It’s not just year-on-year growth, but even month-on-month, the violence perpetrators have bettered their own targeted objectives of harassing ordinary peace-loving citizens:
From 24 in January 2018 to 42 in January 2022; from 20 in February 2018 to 36 in February 2022; from 22 in March 2018 to 35 in 2022; from 17 in April 2018 to 40 in April 2022; from 24 in May 2018 to 61 in May 2022; from 12 in June 2018 to 38 in June 2022; from 22 in July 2018 to 55 in July 2022; from 14 in August 2018 to 54 in July 2022; from 35 in September 2018 to 64 in September 2022; from 27 in October 2018 to 59 in October 2022;from 37 in November 2018 to 27 in the first 21 days of November 2022.
“And December 2022 is yet to begin. We continue to pray for peace and the safety of all Indian citizens,” said A.C. Michael, convener of the UCF.
Two North Indian states seem to be competing for this dubious honour of targeted violence against the Christian community. Uttar Pradesh has kept its year-on-year record intact, with over 100 incidents per year, from 105 incidents in 2018 to 149 incidents in 2022.
“Surprisingly, under the rule of a so-called secular party, Chhattisgarh has seen a sharp rise from 25 incidents in 2018 to 115 incidents as of November 21, 2022. Clearly, these states are making it more dangerous to practice one’s faith, especially for Christians,” said Michael, a former member of Delhi Minorities Commission.
This also means that the state authorities are failing to protect the fundamental rights of all its citizens equally.
Looking at the southern states, Karnataka: from 8 incidents in 2018 to 30 incidents through November 21, 2022, and Tamil Nadu: from 48 incidents in 2018 to 30 incidents through November 21, 2022, also witness a rise in violent hate crimes against the peace-loving Christian community.
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.
As per the reports recorded on the UCF helpline, the incidents of violence against Christians have been increasing sharply and steadily since 2014: 148 incidents in 2014, 183 in 2015, 216 in 2016, 248 in 2017, 292 in 2018, 328 in 2019, 279 in 2020 (perhaps the Covid-19 pandemic gave some relief to Indian Christians), 505 in 2021, and 511 incidents as of November 21, 2022.
Sadly, this violence against the Christian community is compounded by the failure of the police to investigate and prosecute mobs and perpetrators. This is despite a slew of directions to the government from the Supreme Court of India, led by then Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, to stop such horrendous acts of mobocracy.
"The growing incidence of violence against religious minorities is an unhappy situation that defies our Prime Minister Narandra Modi’s electoral assurance in 2013-14 and, consequently, ‘Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas’ (Everyone's support, everyone's development). Our Prime Minister gave this country a vision, which gets eroded every time such an incident takes place,” said Dr. Michael Williams, President of the UCF.
"We earnestly pray for the peace and understanding that India is so proud of, even as we celebrate our unity in our diversity," he added.
There are 79 FIRs (first information reports) lodged against pastors on false allegations of conversions under the Freedom of Religion Act in the six states of India where such laws exist.
Several members of the community are in jail, where bail has been repeatedly denied. Those getting bail find themselves still incarcerated due to bureaucratic delays in processing their release.
The fact of the matter is that census after census has shown that the Christian population remains at 2.3 percent of India’s population of 136.64 million (as of 2019). UCF requests the federal and state governments investigate these incidents.
Radio Veritas Asia (RVA), a media platform of the Catholic Church, aims to share Christ. RVA started in 1969 as a continental Catholic radio station to serve Asian countries in their respective local language, thus earning the tag “the Voice of Asian Christianity.” Responding to the emerging context, RVA embraced media platforms to connect with the global Asian audience via its 21 language websites and various social media platforms.