Uploaded on 30 June, 2022
As per a recent news report quoting United Christian Forum (UCF) data, 207 cases of violence have been reported against Christians in 2022 (till May). This shows that this year, more than one incident has taken place each day so far!
The increased number of violence incidents faced by the Christian community in India led 2021 to be termed as “the most violent year for Christians”.
According to UCF, the upward year-on-year trend had peaked by the end of 2021, with about 505 incidents of violence being reported from across the nation. Over 100 of these (1 in every 5 incidents) had been reported from Uttar Pradesh. This year, the northern state is still the forerunner, with 48 incidents reported from there (almost 1 in 4 incidents). Uttar Pradesh is closely trailed by Chhattisgarh with 44 incidents so far.
These incidents include sexual violence, intimidation and threats, social ostracism, vandalism and desecration of religious places, disruption of prayer services, etc. Majority of these incidents are dominated by cases of physical brutality and closure of churches.
Building on reports by Indian and international organisations, the recently released 2021 Report on International Religious Freedom by the US Department of State observed, “At the end of 2021, 19 cases were pending against Christians in nine states under the conversion restriction laws (anti-conversion laws), although no Christian had been convicted in the country for illegal religious conversion.”
On the subject of violence against Christians, the Report also stated that “the overall violence against Christians and pressure against Christians “in all spheres of life” remained very high”, adding that, “the persecution of Christians had intensified as religious extremists aim to cleanse the country of their presence and influence.”
On 2nd May, two very similar incidents of social boycott and later inhuman assault against Christian women in Chhattisgarh came to light – both from the Bastar district. In the first incident, a 65-year-old Christian woman and her son were both first threatened with social boycott by the panchayat, and when they refused to deny their faith, they were summoned and beaten up by locals. The woman sustained multiple injuries and had to be hospitalised. A complaint related to the incident has been filed before the Superintendent of Police and the District Collector.
In the other incident, a Christian family from the same district was socially boycotted by locals to coerce them to deny their faith. When they persisted, their basic supplies, including water were cut off. The next available source of water being quite some distance away, the woman was intercepted while on her way to fetch water and was assaulted with sticks. She sustained injuries to her back and limbs, and had to be admitted to the nearest hospital.
On 2nd May, in Bastar district, a 65-year-old Christian woman and her son were threatened with a social boycott by the panchayat if they professed the Christian faith. The two maintained they were Christians and would remain so. At this, they were attacked and severely injured. The woman sustained multiple injuries, including a wound on the head, and had to be hospitalised. A complaint has been filed before the Superintendent of Police and the District Collector.
On 31st May, in Jaunpur district of Uttar Pradesh, a pastor was conducting a prayer service when a mob barged in, dragged him out, beat him up, alleging that he was forcefully converting people. The police, rather than acting against the assailants, arrested the pastor, booking him u/s 295A IPC (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings). He remained behind bars until his bail on 3rd June 2022.
It is alarming that religious freedom is being trampled upon in such a brutal manner by a few extremist elements. The fact that so many Christians are implicated under anti-conversion laws and yet no Christian has been convicted clearly proves that a false narrative against Christians is being propagated. We strongly appeal to the authorities to take this matter seriously. For many peace-loving members of the community, the constitutional freedom to simply live out their faith has quite literally become a matter of life and death!
How can one respond in case of religious violence against one's community, church, ministry, or oganisation? Call the UCF toll-free helpline number: 1-800-208-4545
The helpline assists people who are targeted for their faith, especially those who are not aware of the law of the land and the system by guiding them how to reach out to the public authorities and by providing the way to legal remedies.
Invite our allied lawyers to conduct Legal Trainings in your group. Write to us at email@example.com. Since 2012, ADF India has conducted 600 legal trainings for over 51,000 community members, leaders, lawyers, activists and law students.
ADF India provides Legal Aid & Assistance through its panel of allied lawyers to individuals and groups who have suffered discrimination, harassment, hostility and exclusion, on the basis of their religious belief, especially religious minorities, Dalits and Adivasis. To know more, visit adfindia.org/legal-aid.