Violence against Christians has intensified since 2020 with 908 incidents reported, according to United Christian Forum (UCF), a group that has been mapping violence against Christians in India.
According to the organisation, 127 incidents of violence against Christians was reported in 2014 which increased in 2021 as 502 incidents of violence was reported in 2021 on UCF toll-free helpline number 1800-208-4545.
The data shows that most of the attacks were against male church leaders, 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, the UCF said in a statement.
In the first 103 days of 2022, UFC recorded 127 incidents of violence against Christians. January saw 40 incidents, 35 incidents in February, 34 incidents in March and in just the 13 days of April, 18 incidents of violence were reported on the UCF helpline. In these incidents, 89 pastors were beaten up and threatened for conducting prayers. 68 Churches were attacked in which 367 women and 366 children received injuries. Out of 127 incidents, 82 incidents were mob violence, the UFC claimed.
Pending cases in court
There are 42 cases pending in various courts challenging the constitutional validity of the various anti-conversion laws that have been framed with a malafide intention to harass the Christian community who are falsely accused of forceful conversion. The UCF claimed that till date not even a single Christian has been convicted for forcing anyone to convert. Moreover, census after census have shown that Christian population 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 where they have pulled up the police and the authorities for misusing their power. One example is in May 2017, when 72 Christian children going for Christian camp from Madhya Pradesh to Nagpur, accompanied by six elders, were detained on charges of being “kidnapped to be converted”. The Madhya Pradesh High Court, granting bail to the 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,” A C Micheal of UCF said.
In another judgement, in early 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 the 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 thousands, that are lying in front of various courts across India due to the absence of proof of fraud or forceful conversions, it said.