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Spike in atrocities against Christians in India: 400 incidents in first 190 days of 2023

By AC Michael* 

The violence in Manipur has been raging for over two months now, and hundreds of churches and many precious lives have been lost. This year we have just completed half a year of 190 days and we have already witnessed 400 incidents of violence against Christians across 23 states in India with Uttar Pradesh leading the chart with 155 incidents. Last year during the same period (January to June 2022) 274 incidents of violence against Christians witnessed.
There are six districts in Uttar Pradesh which are witnessing incidents of violence against Christians with 13 incidents in Jaunpur, 11 incidents EACH in Rae Bareilly and Sitapur, 10 in Kanpur and 9 each in Azamgarh and Kushinagar districts. But the highest number of incidents of violence against Christians in a district has gone to Bastar in Chhattisgarh with 31 incidents.
This year, the month of June in 2023 has witnessed the highest number of incidents against Christians with 88 incidents (almost 3 incidents a day) followed by 66 incidents in March, 63 in February, 62 in January, 50 in May and 47 in April. Last year, 2022, the same period January won the sad distinction of being on top of the chart with 121 incidents (almost 4 incidents a day), followed by 40 in May, 31 in February, 29 in April, 28 in March and 25 in June.
All these 400 incidents of violence against Christians are spread across the length and breadth of our country, irrespective of which political party is in power. There are twenty three (23) states which are witnessing incidents of violence against Christians. Uttar Pradesh – leading with 155 incidents, followed by Chhattisgarh with 84 incidents, Jharkhand – 35, Haryana – 32, Madhya Pradesh – 21, Punjab – 12, Karnataka – 10, Bihar – 9, Jammu & Kashmir – 8, Gujarat – 7, Uttarakhand – 4, Tamil Nadu – 3, West Bengal – 3, Himachal Pradesh – 3, Maharashtra – 3, Odisha – 2, Delhi – 2 Andhra Pradesh – 1, Assam – 1, Chandigarh – 1, and Goa – 1.
Despite being victims, Christians face more FIRs than the accused, as the police fail to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators
As per the reports recorded by the United Christian Forum (UCF), the incidents of violence against Christians have been increasing sharply and steadily since 2014: 147 incidents in 2014, 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 400 incidents in first 190 days of 2023.
Ironically, despite being the victims in all these atrocities, it is the Christians who are facing more FIRs than the accused, as the police fail to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators of such mob violence. There are 63 FIRs lodged against Christians on false allegations of conversions under the Freedom of Religion Act.
There are 35 pastors still in jail with bails being denied repeatedly. Moreover, those who are getting bail find themselves still incarcerated due to bureaucratic delays in processing their release. Several representations by leaders of the Christian community to the President, Prime Minister and the Home Minister are still awaiting any response.
Meanwhile, the petition on violence against Christians before Supreme Court of India came up for hearing on 10th july 2023. The Union government opposed our petition. Our advocate Colin Gonsalves submitted an interim prayer for SIT comprising officers outside the respective states to register FIRs, investigate and prosecute; police protection prayer meetings conducted by the Christian community and to provide legal aid to all the victims. Next hearing will be on 14th July 2023.
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*Former member of Delhi Minorities Commission, Govt of NCT of Delhi; President, Federation of Catholic Associations of Archdiocese of Delhi; National Coordinator, United Christian Forum, India

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