Table of Contents
- Concerns of the Christian Community
- Alarming Rise in Violence Against Christians
- Anti-conversion Cases and Arrests
- Denial of Ration and Burial Grounds, Attacks on Churches
- Lack of Christian Representation
- Additional Report on Violence Against Christians
- Recent Church Attack in Madhya Pradesh
On Sunday, February 19, over 2,000 individuals belonging to the Christian community in India, including archbishops, bishops, pastors, and nuns, gathered at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi for a mass protest. The protest, organized by the Delhi-NCR Christian community, aimed to bring attention to the increasing number of hate crimes and discrimination faced by Christians across the country. With the participation of 79 churches, this protest marked the first such agitation in over a decade, with the previous one focusing on the issue of Dalit Christians.
Concerns of the Christian Community
The Christian community leaders used this platform to highlight their concerns and draw the attention of the Union and state governments, civil society, and the judiciary to what they perceive as targeted violence against Christians in various states, including Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, and Uttar Pradesh. They expressed their disappointment with the state machinery and appealed to the government to address the issue.
Alarming Rise in Violence Against Christians
The United Christian Forum (UCF) released a report on violence against Christians, which was presented on Saturday, February 18, ahead of the protest. According to the report, there has been a significant 400% increase in reported cases of violence against Christians in India, rising from 147 incidents in 2014 to 598 incidents in 2022. The top five states with the highest number of reported incidents are Uttar Pradesh (186), Chhattisgarh (132), Jharkhand (51), Karnataka (37), and Tamil Nadu (33).
Anti-conversion Cases and Arrests
The UCF report also revealed that a total of 74 anti-conversion cases were filed against Christians in 2022, with Uttar Pradesh alone accounting for 56 cases. Additionally, Uttar Pradesh had the highest number of Christians arrested last year (332), followed by Karnataka (40), Madhya Pradesh (21), and Uttarakhand (17). These numbers shed light on the challenges faced by the Christian community in exercising their religious freedom.
Denial of Ration and Burial Grounds, Attacks on Churches
During the protest, community leaders highlighted specific incidents of discrimination and violence against Christians. These included the denial of ration and burial grounds to Christians, attacks on churches during prayer meetings on Sundays, and the forced eviction of tribal Christians in Chhattisgarh following ultimatums of “ghar wapsi” (conversion to Hinduism). These incidents have left the community feeling marginalized and threatened.
Lack of Christian Representation
Christian leaders also expressed their concern about the lack of Christian representation in the National Commission for Minorities. They highlighted the absence of Christian members among the five individuals nominated by the Union government to represent minority communities. This lack of representation raises questions about the government’s commitment to addressing the concerns of the Christian community.
Additional Report on Violence Against Christians
In addition to the UCF report, another report released by the Federation of Indian American Christians of North America (FIACONA) documented a total of 1,198 incidents of violence against Christians. According to this report, Uttar Pradesh had the highest number of incidents (334), followed by Chhattisgarh (195), Madhya Pradesh (113), Jharkhand (76), and Tamil Nadu (66).
Recent Church Attack in Madhya Pradesh
The protest took place against the backdrop of a recent attack on a church in Narmadapuram district, Madhya Pradesh. Three individuals were arrested for inscribing the word ‘Ram’ on the church wall and attempting to set the Sunday prayer hall on fire by setting ablaze the furniture. This incident further underscores the need for addressing the concerns raised by the Christian community.
In conclusion, the mass protest held by the Christian community in New Delhi served as a platform to highlight the increasing number of hate crimes and discrimination faced by Christians across India. The community leaders urged the government and society as a whole to take action against targeted violence and address the concerns of the Christian community. With alarming statistics on violence and discrimination, it is crucial to ensure the protection of religious freedom and the rights of all individuals, regardless of their faith.