The persecution of Christians in India continued unabated with more than one incident reported in a day this year, according to a report released by the United Christian Forum this week.
The report said that as of end of May this year, there were already 207 incidents of attacks on Christians.
The group noted an upward year-on-year trend that peaked at the end of 2021 with at least 505 incidents of violence reported from across the nation.
Over 100 of the incidents, or one in every five, had been reported from Uttar Pradesh, a state ruled by the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party.
This year, the northern state remains the forerunner with 48 incidents reported, almost one in four, followed by the central state of Chhattisgarh with 44 incidents, according to a statement from the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) India.
The alliance provides legal aid and assistance to individuals and groups who suffered discrimination, harassment, hostility and exclusion, on the basis of their religious belief.
Among the recent incidents reported was the attack on a 65-year-old Christian woman and her son, who refused to renounce their faith, by Hindu zealots in Chhattisgarh’s Bastar district on May 2 this year.
In another incident in the same district, a Christian family was socially boycotted — including cutting off of their water supply — by locals for the same reason.
On May 31, in Jaunpur district of Uttar Pradesh, a pastor was dragged out while conducting prayers. He was accused of forcefully converting people.
In a statement, ADF India said hate crimes include sexual violence, intimidation and threats, social ostracism, vandalism and desecration of religious places, disruption of prayer services, among others.
Majority of these incidents were dominated by cases of physical brutality and closure of churches.
A 2021 Report on International Religious Freedom by the US Department of State observed that although no Christian had been convicted in India for illegal religious conversion by end of last year, 19 cases were pending against Christians in nine states under the conversion restriction laws or anti-conversion laws.
Since the BJP took over the reins of the federal government eight years ago, hate crimes against Christians have increased, various reports said.
In 2014, there were 147 incidents reported, the following year it increased to 177, then to 208 in 2016, to 240 in 2017, to 292 in 2018, and to 328 in 2019. In 2020, the figure went down to 279 due to pandemic lockdowns.