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Indian Church helpline receives 300% rise in complaints of anti-Christian violence

By AC Michael* 

Last Friday, over 2000 years ago, Jesus Christ was persecuted, or was believed to be crucified. Followers of Jesus are even today being persecuted in certain parts of the world, including in India, wherein vested groups of people are spreading hatred against minorities for their political gains.
The persecution of Christians in India is intensifying which is leading to a systemic and carefully orchestrated violence against Christians, including use of social media to spread disinformation and stir up hatred.
The strong infiltration of hatred against Christians witnessed 127 incidents of violence in 2014, which increased to 502 in 2021, or by nearly 300 per cent, according to information received on the United Christian Forum, India (UCF India) toll-free helpline number 1800-208-4545.
Most Church leaders are men, and being a pastor is understood to be one of the riskiest vocations in India. Pastors and their families are targeted to instill fear among them.
In the first 103 days of 2022 we have already witnessed 127 incidents of violence against Christians. January saw 40 incidents, 35 incidents in February, 34 incidents in March and just in 13 days of April, 18 incidents of violence were reported on UCF helpline.
In these incidents, 89 pastors were beaten up and threatened from conducting prayers for which they became pastors; and 68 Churches were attacked in which 367 women and 366 children received injuries. Out of 127 incidents 82 incidents were of mob violence.
There are 42 cases pending in various courts challenging the Constitutional validity of the so-called Freedom of Religion Act against which have been framed with a malafide intention to harass the Christian community who are falsely accused of forceful conversion. 
Ironically, till today, not a single Christian has been convicted for forcing any one to convert. Moreover, census after census have shown that the Christian population has remained 2.3 percent of India’s population of 1.2 billion.
There are many false cases that were filed against Christians which the courts have found untrue and pulled up the police and the authorities for misusing the power. One example is of May 2017, when 72 Christian children going for Christian camp from Madhya Pradesh to Nagpur in Maharashtra accompanied by six elders were detained on charges of being “kidnapped to be converted".
The Madhya Pradesh High Court granting bail to children and elders directed the police to come back with evidence to prove their claim that children are not Christians and that they were being kidnapped to be converted. Till today, the police have not come back to court.
In another judgement, beginning of 2019, the Delhi High Court while restoring the status of Overseas Citizen of India said that the government could not show any proof whatsoever of having forcefully or fraudulently converting even a single person. Under similar charges, there were over 40 Churches in Jaunpur district of Uttar Pradesh that were shut down in 2018.
Even though pastors and other Christian leaders are out on bail, the police are yet to file charge sheets against any of them as they do not have any evidence to prove fraud or forceful conversions.
There are hundreds of such cases, if not in thousands, that are lying in front of various courts across India due to the absence of proof of fraud or forceful conversions. The various courts in India in the last 15 months – January 2021 to March 2022 -- have acquitted Christians of false allegations of conversions in 59 cases (41 in 2021 and 18 till March 2022).
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*President, Federation of Catholic Associations of Archdiocese of Delhi (Affiliated to All India Catholic Union); National coordinator, United Christian Forum, India and Minority Affairs of All India Catholic Union; Vice Chairman, media & communication, National Council of YMCAs of India

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