The United Christian Forum (UCF) has released a report detailing a significant rise in violence against Christians in India during the first half of 2023.
According to the report, a total of 400 acts of violence have been recorded across 23 states, marking a troubling increase from the 274 incidents reported during the same period in the previous year.
Uttar Pradesh emerged as the state with the highest number of cases, with 155 incidents reported. This was followed by Chhattisgarh (84), Jharkhand (35), Haryana (32), Madhya Pradesh (21), Punjab (12), Karnataka (10), Bihar (9), Jammu & Kashmir (8), and Gujarat (7).
The month of June stood out as particularly distressing, with 88 documented incidents, averaging nearly three attacks per day. March (66), February (63), and January (62) also recorded high numbers of violence against Christians.
Comparatively, January 2022 witnessed the highest number of incidents during the same period last year, with a total of 121 occurrences.
The UCF highlighted that these acts of violence transcended political affiliations, occurring regardless of which party was in power. The report underscored the dire situation in Manipur, where an ongoing period of violence has resulted in the destruction of numerous churches and tragic loss of life.
Furthermore, the UCF raised serious concerns about the mistreatment of Christians by the authorities. Despite being victims of these atrocities, Christians often face a higher number of First Information Reports (FIRs) compared to the accused. The organization pointed out that law enforcement agencies frequently fail to conduct thorough investigations and bring the perpetrators of mob violence to justice.
The report also shed light on the misuse of the Freedom of Religion Act, with false allegations of forced conversions leading to 63 FIRs lodged against Christians. Shockingly, 35 pastors currently remain incarcerated, as their bail requests have been repeatedly denied. Even those who manage to secure bail face bureaucratic delays in their release, despite appeals made to the President, Prime Minister, and Home Minister.
The UCF called for urgent attention and action to address the escalating violence against Christians. Christian community leaders have appealed to the highest levels of government, urging prompt intervention to ensure the safety and protection of the Christian minority in India.