With 69 cases, September witnessed the highest number of violent incidents this year
NEW DELHI – Three Hundred and Five (305) incidents of violence against Christians have been reported in 273 Days of 2021, says a report unveiled on Thursday, October 21. The figure has been taken from the messages recorded on the toll-free helpline number 1-800-208-4545. The number was launched by United Christian Forum (UCF) on 19th January 2015 with the aim of helping people in distress.
Addressing a joint press conference at the Press Club of India, representatives of UCF, United Against Hate and Association for Protection of Civil Rights unveiled a fact-finding report documenting the attacks on Christians and churches. According to this report, September 2021 witnessed the highest number of incidents with 69 followed by 50 in August, 37 in January, 33 in July, 27 in March, April and June, 20 in February and 15 in May.
Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh recorded 169 incidents of violence against Christians in total in the last nine months with Karnataka recording 32 such incidents. A total of 1,331 women were injured in these incidents. Nearly 300 incidents of mob attacks/violence were reported in these eight months. Twenty-Three incidents of causing damage to the places of worship/Churches were also reported.
Police or/other government authorities disallowed 85 times the assembly of people for religious activities under one pretext or the other. Ten Fresh cases were filed under the Freedom of Religion Act this year. Recent one is the attack by over 200 Hindutva mobs in a Church in Roorkee, Uttarakhand, on October 3.
The Press Conference was moderated by Banojyotsna Lahiri, who addressed the increasing attacks on minorities in South Asia and lack of action on the part of the government and its police.
A.C. Michael, National Coordinator of United Christian Forum, defined the term “minority” and addressed how minorities under attack are not allowed to practice their faith. The religious gatherings are attacked and police pressure forces them into silence.
Pearl, Sadhana and Eva, the victims of violence that took place in Roorkee on October 3 described the horrific incident. A mob of around 200 people, barged in the church and vandalised it. CCTV cameras were destroyed, Christian worshippers molested and beaten. They pointed out that the attackers were people from the neighbourhood and well educated. No arrests have been made and the harassment hasn’t stopped even after two weeks of the violence.
Ms. Minakshi Singh, President of Unity in Compassion, pointed out that the Christian community is being accused of carrying out ‘conversions’ on a large scale but numbers state otherwise. Over the years, a reduction in the Christian population has been noted. She also complained of the police atrocities against minorities.
Nadeem Khan, founder of United Against Hate, compared the state’s attitude towards attacks on minorities in India and Bangladesh. The Indian government is ‘protecting’ these groups as if they belong to a party. He pointed out that this non-responsive government must be questioned.
Senior journalist Prashant Tandon addressed the modus operandi of the attacks on minorities. He pointed that either RSS or any of its sub-groups, puts allegations of conversion against minorities. Later, they are attacked and there is no action taken against these acts of violence.
The Fact-Finding Report by the team including members of United Against Hate, Association for Protection of Civil Rights and United Christian Forum recording testimonies of victims during vandalisation of Church in Roorkee noted that despite prior complaints by Lance family, Roorkee Police did not provide security to the Church and the family. At the time of the attack police were informed and calls were made to Civil Lines police station which is less than a kilometer away from the Church but the police team arrived when the violent mob dispersed on its own after the attack and prima facie attack looked meticulously planned to build a fake narrative of conversion. Breaking of CCTV cameras at the entrance of the prayer hall and taking away the DVR indicate the planning and motive of not leaving evidence behind. The report records that the daughter of the pastor was molested by a man with the mob while some women slapped and abused her and also snatched her phone away .
The report also records the testimonies of the victims of 89 other incidents of hate crime against Christians like the recent attack by Hindutva mob on Christians at Mau in UP.