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525 incidents of Violence against Christians in first 8 months this year

New Delhi, September 7: The first 212 days of this year, 2023, 525 incidents of violence against Christians have been reported from 23 states of India in just 8 months as against 505 incidents in the whole year of 2022. June has seen the highest number of incidents with 89 followed by July with 80, 68 in August, 66 in March, 63 in February, 62 in January, 50 in May and 47 in April, AC Michael of United Christian Forum said in a statement here today.

There are 13 districts in India where practising Christianity is becoming dangerous. Bastar is leading with 51 incidents of violence against Christians followed by 14 each in Kondagaon and Azamgarh, 13 each in Jaunpur, Raebareli and Sitapur, 12 in Kapur, 10 each in Hardoi, Maharajganj, Kushinagar and Mau, 9 each in Gazipur and Ranchi.

Three large states of North India are witnessing the highest number of incidents of violence against Christians: Uttar Pradesh leading with 211 incidents followed by Chhattisgarh with 118 and Haryana with 39 incidents.

All these incidents of violence are by mob violence led by so-called vigilante groups of a particular faith who are allegedly receiving support from people in power. Attacks against Christians do not stop with mob violence only; there are 520 Christians who have been arrested accused of false forced conversions with any proven evidence.

There are 54 cases of social ostracism predominantly occurring in the states of Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand. This exclusion involves denying victims access to basic resources such as village water sources, common roads, etc. Additionally, in certain situations, victims are prevented from harvesting their own crops, leading to adverse economic consequences.

This year also saw Delhi NCR experiencing incidents of violence with four recorded cases in which individuals conducting prayer meetings were confronted and disrupted by religious extremist groups. These extremists resorted to physical assault against the victims and used threats to coerce them into ending their prayer gatherings.

As per the reports recorded by the United Christian Forum (UCF), the incidents of violence against Christians have been increasing sharply and steadily since 2014: 147 incidents in 2014, 177 in 2015, 208 in 2016, 240 in 2017, 292 in 2018, 328 in 2019, 279 in 2020, 505 in 2021, 599 in 2022 and 525 incidents in first 212 days of 2023.

The Forum’s statement does not include the details of Manipur wherein, according to media reports, over 300 churches belonging to various communities were destroyed, nearly 200 people died and over 54,000 were displaced since May 3, 2023. While the situation remains tense and volatile, we will await the official report of the Government’s inquiry and investigation.

The matter is coming up on 12th September 2023 before a bench led by the Chief Justice of India for final hearing. The Union Government is opposing our petition. Advocate Colin Gonsalves has submitted an interim prayer for SIT comprising officers outside the respective states to register FIRs, investigate and prosecute; police protection prayer meetings conducted by the Christian community and to provide legal aid to all the victims, the statement added.

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