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Christian persecution continues to rise in India

An ecumenical persecution watchdog has warned against the increasing attacks on Christians in India with 400 cases of violence in the first half of 2023. 

The United Christian Forum (UCF) on July 11 said incidents of violence against Christians were documented in 23 states in India with Uttar Pradesh leading the chart with 155 incidents.

“This year, [the] month of June has witnessed [the] highest number of incidents against Christians with 88 incidents (almost 3 incidents a day) followed by 66 incidents in March, 63 in February, 62 in January, 50 in May, and 47 in April,” the group said. 

During the same period last year (January to June 2022), 274 incidents of violence against Christians were reported.

“Ironically, more First Information Reports (FIR) are filed against Christian victims than the accused as the police fail to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators of such mob violence,” said UCF convenor A. C. Michael. 

Michael said there are 63 FIRs lodged against Christians on “false allegations of conversions” under the Freedom of Religion Act. There are 35 pastors who are still in jail and whose petitions for bail were repeatedly denied. 

“Those who are getting bail find themselves still incarcerated due to bureaucratic delays in processing their release,” he said. 

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Hate crimes against Christians have been increasing since the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janta Party started to rule in 2014. 

In 2014, there were 147 reported cases of violence against Christians, 147 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 slight reduction in incidents in 2020 was due to the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown.

The country is also witnessing unabated sectarian strife in northeastern Manipur since May 3. Nearly 150 people*, largely Christian tribals, have been killed. Nearly 400 churches were torched and thousands were rendered homeless.

*This report has been updated on 12 July 2023, 7:22 pm

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