The press statement details that 525 incidents of violence against Christians in India have been reported to date in 2023, which is two incidents a day.
ON Thursday, the United Christian Forum (UFC) released a press statement on incidents of violence against Christians in India.
The UFC is an organisation created to uphold fundamental freedom and promote the values of justice, liberty, equality and fraternity.
At the outset, while the statement expresses pride for world leaders assembling in India for the G20 Summit, it condemns the violence faced by Indians for practising a faith of their choice.
According to the statement, during the 212 days of eight months of 2023, 525 incidents of violence against Christians were reported in 23 states.
Notably, the statement provides that the incidents have been increasing “sharply and steadily since 2014”.
Detailing the rise, the statement lays out that 147 incidents were reported in 2014, 177 in 2015, 208 in 2016, 240 in 2017, 292 in 2018, 328 in 2019, 279 in 2020, 505 in 2021 and 599 in 2022.
The statement claims that practising Christianity is “becoming dangerous”, especially in 13 districts of India— Bastar, Kondagaon, Azamgarh, Jaunpur, Raebareli, Sitapur, Kapur, Hardoi, Maharajganj, Kushinagar, Mau, Gazipur and Ranchi.
The UFC claims in the statement that the incidents of violence are perpetrated by ‘vigilante groups’ who are allegedly supported by people in power.
As per the press release, besides the attack on Christians through mob violence, 520 Christians have been arrested on ‘false allegations’ of ‘forcible conversions’.
The statement reports 54 cases of social ostracism, predominantly from Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand.
Suchostracism denies victims access to basic resources, including village water resources and common roads, the statement claims.
The statement also says that in certain situations, the victims are prevented from harvesting their own crops, causing adverse economic consequences.
The UFC particularly notes that in Delhi NCR, four incidents of violence were recorded where individuals conducting prayers were confronted and the prayer meetings were disrupted by religious extremist groups.
The statement adds, “These extremists resorted to physical assault against the victims and used threats to coerce them into ending their prayer gatherings.”
The UFC notes that the press statement does not include details of destruction and harm in violence-hit Manipur, where reportedly, 300 churches have been destroyed, 200 people have died and over 54,000 Christians have been displaced since May 3.
In view of the tense and volatile situation in Manipur, the UFC awaits an official report of the government’s inquiry and investigation.
In its conclusion, the press statement apprises that a petition on violence against Christians is posted for final hearing before a Supreme Court Bench led by the Chief Justice of India Dr D.Y. Chandrachud on September 12.
The statement expounds that during previous hearings on the said petition, senior advocate Colin Gonsalves appeared on behalf of the UFC and submitted an interim prayer for the constitution of a special investigation team to register first information reports to investigate and prosecute the culprits.
In the interim prayer it was also pleaded that the State should ensure police protection for prayer meetings of the Christian community and to provide legal aid to all victims of violence.