The United Christian Forum (UCF), an organisation that compiles data on atrocities against Christians in India, has expressed its discontent with the Centre’s response to a crucial petition in the Supreme Court. On April 13, the Centre had informed the Supreme Court that the claims of rising attacks were fabricated to maintain an “exaggerated” and misleading narrative. “The government data downplays the severity of the situation,” stated A.C. Michael, the UCF’s national coordinator. The UCF has filed a petition with the apex court, decrying the increasing number of attacks and false police cases against minority community members, a trend coinciding with the enactment of anti-conversion laws in multiple States.
Michael further explained, “Our advocate, Colin Gonsalves, submitted an interim prayer to the court on July 10, requesting the appointment of a Special Investigation Team (SIT) comprising retired IPS officers. This SIT would examine the lists provided by both parties to establish the facts.” He added that the government’s list is biased against the Christian community and argued that the government and the police are relying on baseless claims from third parties like the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP). ““Our petition states that the attacks on the community are on the rise. But the government claims that Christians are forcefully converting people. There is no evidence of any ‘forceful conversion’. If the government assertions are true, it must produce the court those who have been forcibly converted,” he said.
According to a report compiled by the UCF, Manipur has witnessed several incidents of targeted violence against Christians amid ongoing civil unrest. In the first half of 2023, the Christian community faced over 400 hate crimes, averaging more than two incidents per day. In June alone, there were approximately three incidents reported daily. The report lamented that written representations to President Droupadi Murmu, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and Union Home Minister Amit Shah have yet to receive any response.
The report stated, “This year we have just completed half a year of 190 days and we have already witnessed 400 incidents of violence against Christians across 23 States in India.” Comparatively, during the same period from January to June 2022, there were 274 incidents of violence against Christians.
The report highlighted Uttar Pradesh as the leading State, with 155 incidents reported so far this year. At least six districts in the State have been witnessing regular incidents, with Jaunpur recording 13 incidents, and Rae Bareilly and Sitapur each reporting 11 incidents. Kanpur had 10 incidents, while Azamgarh and Kushinagar districts had nine incidents each in the past six months. The highest number of incidents, 31 in total, during this period were reported from Bastar in Chhattisgarh.
The report revealed that June alone witnessed 88 incidents, averaging almost three incidents per day. This was followed by 66 incidents in March, 63 in February, 62 in January, 50 in May, and 47 in April. In the same period last year, January had the highest number of incidents, with 121 reported, averaging almost four incidents per day. May had 40 incidents, February had 31, April had 29, March had 28, and June had 25.
“According to the UCF report, violence against Christians has occurred in 23 States in 2023. Uttar Pradesh leads with 155 incidents, followed by Chhattisgarh with 84 incidents.”
According to the UCF report, violence against Christians has occurred in 23 States in 2023. Uttar Pradesh leads with 155 incidents, followed by Chhattisgarh with 84 incidents, Jharkhand with 35, Haryana with 32, Madhya Pradesh with 21, Punjab with 12, Karnataka with 10, Bihar with 9, Jammu & Kashmir with 8, Gujarat with 7, Uttarakhand with 4, Tamil Nadu with 3, West Bengal with 3, Himachal Pradesh with 3, Maharashtra with 3, Odisha with 2, Delhi with 2, and Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Chandigarh, and Goa with one incident each.
The report deplored that, despite being victims, Christians are facing more FIRs (First Information Reports) than the accused individuals due to the police’s failure to investigate and prosecute perpetrators of such mob violence. The report cited 63 FIRs filed against Christians based on false allegations of conversions under the Freedom of Religion Act. Michael noted that Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and Jharkhand have the highest number of registered FIRs. “There are still 35 pastors in jail, with repeated denials of bail. Even those granted bail remain incarcerated due to bureaucratic delays in processing their release,” Michael added.