325 Hate Crimes Against Christians in India in 2018: Report

Representative image (WWM)

In the last one year, 325 incidents of hate crimes, violence, intimidation and harassment against Christians in India have been recorded, the Religious Liberty Commission (RLC) of the Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI) reported.

The report showed that attempts at religious polarization are at an all-time high as general elections due in April 2019. Hate speeches have acted as a catalyst in the dividing of people along religious, ethnic and even linguistic lines.

In the subcontinent, Uttar Pradesh (UP) and Tamil Nadu (TN) have witnessed a sudden spurt of violence against Christians.

Over 40 percent of the documented incidents (132) took place in UP making it the state where Christians were targeted the most.

UP witnessed 94 incidents in total against Christians, between the months of September and December 2018 alone. In comparison, the number of incidents against Christians recorded in the state in 2017 were only 50 for the entire year. This increase can be attributed to the targeted campaign against Christians and Congregations in Eastern UP, particularly the district of Jaunpur which by itself reported 45 incidents against the community.

TN registered 40 incidents while Telangana stood third with 24. Bihar and Jharkhand recorded 17 and 16 incidents respectively and Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh witnessed 12 incidents each, the report showed.

UP and TN together saw 81 incidents of stopping and disruption of Church worship services and prayer meetings, the most commonly recorded incidents.

Cases involving physical violence numbered 70. These cases include arrests of the victims of the violence rather than the perpetrators.

In 81 incidents Christians have been either arrested and or falsely accused or been beaten up at the same time; and in 44 incidents Christians have been threatened and harassed.

Incidents of social boycott were particularly documented from the tribal areas of Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh. The Hindu radical groups have been observed disrupting the tribal society and causing a division between tribal Christians and non-Christians.

Freedom of Religion Act which was passed and enforced in 2017 by the BJP government have been invoked and used to arrest Christians frequently in many states of the country and often a tool of harassment rather than the truth. Many arrests have been reported from Jharkhand under the Act.

The small Christian community, 2.3 percent of the 1.30 billion population, which seems to be targeted mainly on the excuse of the issue of conversion, is also a collateral victim of the hate crimes against the much larger Muslim community, which is about 15 percent.