Home News Report reveals surge in hate crimes against Christians in India

Report reveals surge in hate crimes against Christians in India

Incidents targeting Christians are on the rise in India, with a relentless increase observed, according to a report released by the Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI) on March 21. 

Based on the report, there were at least 601 hate crimes against Christians last year, and another 161 incidents in the first 75 days of 2024. 

EFI said that incidents targeting Christians and their institutions in the country climbed from 413 in 2022 to 601 in 2023, with the northern state of Uttar Pradesh topping the list.

Christians faced a “threat to life” for practicing their faith in 19 out of 28 states, according to the United Christian Forum (UCF), an ecumenical watchdog.

January witnessed 70 incidents of violence against Christians, followed by 62 incidents in the 29 days of February and 29 incidents in the 15 days of March 2024. 

Chhattisgarh is the leading state in assaults against Christians with 47 incidents of reported violence so far this year, the UCF report stated. 

Christians are being denied access to water from community wells in the village. In this state, even deceased Christians are not spared, as many were denied burial according to Christian rituals. Villagers have threatened to cremate the bodies as a final act of returning them to Hinduism, the report said.

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According to the EFI report, Uttar Pradesh, India’s largest and politically most significant state, maintains its status as the most challenging environment for Christians, recording 275 cases last year. 

It also leads to the number of arrests of pastors and believers, who have been detained on allegations of forced conversion by local political groups. 

Many of those arrested were simply participating in birthdays or prayer meetings, and some remained in custody for extended periods without bail. Chhattisgarh in central India with 132 cases, and the northern state of Haryana with 44 cases.

There are 13 districts in India where practicing Christianity is becoming dangerous. Bastar, in Chhattisgarh state, is leading with 51 incidents of violence against Christians. 

The total number of Christians arrested in India so far in 2023 was 648, also a record, of which an unprecedented 440 cases were from Uttar Pradesh. Out of these, 35 Christians were still awaiting release towards the end of the year. These numbers are just the tip of the iceberg. 

In a vast country like India, with its social dynamics, people often fear even filing a complaint. All too often, the police are “lax” in recording or investigating instances of hate crimes of a religious nature, the EFI report stated.

For Christians, the main issue is the false allegation of proselytization, which is used to justify horrific crimes against the community. Vijayesh Lal, general secretary of the EFI, expressed grave concern that pastors, especially in rural areas, were targeted, assaulted, places of worship damaged, and prayers stopped. 

Christians from Dalit and tribal groups, as well as women, are vulnerable to violence and discrimination due to their intersectional identities. 

Christian tribals face the additional challenge of their ethnic status being obliterated upon conversion to Christianity, but not upon conversion to Hinduism from their ancestral modes of faith and nature worship.

The Hindutva movement, representing a far-right faction of the majority religion with extensive support in many states, especially the 11 that have the anti-conversion law in place, has been inaccurately accusing Christians of engaging in forced conversions. 

This unfounded claim has been used to justify targeted aggression. The report also highlighted the ongoing sectarian strife in northeastern Manipur, which has claimed at least 219 lives thus far, and the proposed legislation enforcing a Uniform Civil Code that could potentially undermine legal protections for religious minorities under the Indian Constitution.

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