India Saw 1,247 Incidents of Persecution of Christians Since 2016, 91 Cases of Church Attacks in 2018: Report
59% of all violent incidents were reported from Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Telangana.
The Persecution Relief Annual Report on hate crimes against Christians in India notes that there have been 1,247 incidents of persecution of Christians since 2016.
While 440 cases of violence were recorded in 2017, the number went up to 477 in 2018.
59% of incidents in 2018 were reported from Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Telangana. Uttar Pradesh is termed the most hostile state, with 129 validated incidents reported, an 87 per cent increase from 2017. “Sources state that these are only a fraction of the actual violence perpetuated and reported on the ground. Religious organisations have mushroomed across the landscape of Uttar Pradesh, with many reports of vigilantism and incidents of lynching with impunity.”
Tamil Nadu reported the second highest number of incidents — 67. “Several house Churches and regular main line Churches have been forcibly shut down and congregation physically attacked, where men and women of God, including children were not spared,” the report notes.
91 cases of church attacks have been reported. These include disruption of prayer service, vandalising, churches sealed by administration, Holy Bibles burnt, Church eviction by owners due to pressure by fanatics, Church construction permission denied by authorities and access to church blocked. 10 cases of church being burnt down have also been reported.
The most common form of church persecution is reportedly “Threats, Harassment and Intimidation” with 122 recorded cases.
The report notes that “anti-conversion law” (Freedom of Religion Act) which has now been passed in 8 states, “continues to be misused and has only served as a catalyst for the religious fundamentalists to attack Christians and Minorities with license.”
The report also notes the role of Hindutva groups. “Several fact-finding missions and national human rights organizations have attributed the increase in violence to the growing presence and activities of self-proclaimed Hindutva groups. Even the police personnel and the administrators, have discreetly admitted that communal flare-ups have become frequent in recent months with the spurt of activities of the VHP and Bajrang Dal.”
One of the recommendations of the report is that Prime Minister Narendra Modi should speak out and condemn crimes against minorities. It also requests that the ‘anti-conversion law’ be repealed.
The report has been compiled using data obtained from Persecution Relief’s State and District Coordinators, Volunteers and staff across 29 states. Upon receiving information, persecuted persons are contacted, “interviews are conducted to establish authenticity of the case; evidence of the incident in the form of FIRs, Photos, Videos etc. are reviewed and validated etc.”
The report also notes that the cases included here are only “a fraction of actual violence perpetuated and reported on the ground.”
Persecution Relief is an inter-denominational initiative and has been compiling data on persecution of Christian minorities since 2016.