Indian evangelicals confirm 366 cases of violence against Christians in 2019
The Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI) publishes its annual report of violence against Christians. “Most of the incidents are related to physical violence, threats, harassment and the disruption of church services”.
EFI · NEW DELHI · 26 MARCH 2020 · 17:55 CET
The Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI) has released the Religious Liberty Commission (RLC) Report Hate and Targeted Violence against Christians in 2019.
According to the report, “in 2019,the Christian community in India continued to face incidents of targeted violence and hate crimes. The RLC recorded 366 incidents where Christians have been targeted using violence, intimidation or harassment”.
UTTAR PRADRESH AND TAMIL NADU, THE WORST REGIONS FOR CHRISTIANS
“Uttar Pradesh, the most populous state of India, and indicted in the recent shooting down of Muslim protesters, maintained its position as the worst offender in the persecution of Christians. Even though compared to the 2018 figures, the state accounts for almost a quarter of all incidents recorded in the nation”, the RLC points out.
The report says “the state is led by Chief Minister Ajay Singh Bisht, also known as Yogi Adityanath, the high priest of the Gorakhnath temple in the state, who is also the founder of the Hindu YuvaVahini, a Hindu youth militia that has been involved in communal violence and in targeting religious minorities”.
Tamil Nadu stands second with 60 incidents. “Its anti-Christian violence is traced to caste supremacist attitudes in villages and their linkages with political elements currently positioning themselves for power in the state which goes for elections soon”.
SUNDAY SERVICE RAIDS AND FALSE ARRESTS
“Most of the incidents recorded are related to physical violence, threats, harassment and the disruption of church services, by either religious radicals or the police. Targeting congregating Christians on Sundays is now a trend across many states, but especially in Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu”, RCL explains.
Additionally, “many Christians have also been falsely accused and detained or arrested on alleged and convenient charges of forced conversion”.
During the summer, “the total number of incidents dipped”, because “the Election Commission of India had mobilized large scale police presence in rural areas leading up to the general elections in April and May 2019”.
However, “the incidents peaked in November 2019, as congregations increased their prayer/religious activities prior to Christmas, while the anticipated violence during the Christmas season, a reality in previous years, did not take place and was overtaken as it was by the protests around the changes in the citizenship laws”, the report adds.
The EFI is worried about the citizenship laws, because “if it is implemented, along with the National Register of Citizens (NRC), can isolate and possibly disenfranchise the minorities, the Muslims in particular”.
CIVIL SOCIETY SUPPORT
“On the positive side has been the spontaneous support for religious minorities from the civil society at large, consisting of students, youth, intellectuals, retired senior bureaucrats and a section of former military officers”, it stresses.
According to RCL, “this is an important development, in view of the seemingly unstoppable penetration of the Sangh Parivar (Hindu nationalist organisations) in various campuses and institutions in the last five years”.
The report warns that “the numbers of cases recorded by RLC or any other agency are only indicative, and the actual numbers may be much larger. The reasons for under reporting are fear among the Christian community, a lack of legal literacy and the reluctance/refusal of police to register cases”.
RECOMMENDATIONS TO THE GOVERNMENT
The RCL also appeals to the government of India to “enforce rule of law and arrest members of groups promoting sectarian hate, violence and involving in pre-orchestrated programs of levelling false accusations of conversions upon the Christians in order to feed their political agenda”.
“We advise the state governments, especially Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, to deal with right wing organizations operating in these states whose primary agenda is to create an atmosphere of fear among the Christian community and other religious minorities”.
More detailed recommendations to the Government of India can be found in the report.
40 CASES IN THE FISRT TWO MONTHS OF 2020
The EFI also denounces that “even in the first two months of 2020, violence was reported against the Christian community, not from New Delhi, but elsewhere in the nation. The RLC has confirmed over 40 such incidents in the first two months of 2020”.
“The Commission hopes to publish the first quarter report of 2020 by mid-April along with a detailed list of incidents”, it concludes.
LOCKDOWN FOR CORONAVIRUS
This Wednesday India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi has imposed a nationwide lockdown for 21 days due to the coronavirus. India has so far lost 10 lives to this disease and close to 600 have been infected.
“The Christian community must take the responsibility to lead the nation in hope and spiritual strength in fighting the menace of COVID-19”, the EFI said in another statement.