The Christians in India faced 486 incidents of violence and harassment during 2021 which has been declared the “most violent year” for the community.
The United Christian Forum (UCF), a rights body that maintains a database of incidents of violence and intimidation in India, said 2021 saw an increase of 74% from 2020, when 279 such cases were reported on the UFC’s helpline.
The Forum said more than 104 violent incidents against Christians were recorded in the last two months of the year.
The report says Uttar Pradesh saw the most hate crimes against the minority group with 102 instances, followed by Chhattisgarh with 90. Four states including Jharkhand (44) and Madhya Pradesh (38) recorded 274 incidents of violence making 56% of the total incidents against Christians.
In all the cases, vigilante mobs of religious extremists were observed barging into prayer gatherings or rounding up individuals.
“With impunity, such mobs criminally threaten, physically assault people in prayer, before handing them over to the police on allegations of forcible conversions. Often communal sloganeering is witnessed outside police stations, where the police stand as mute spectators,” the report said.
It said the marginalised Dalits have converted to Christianity as well as Islam and Buddhism in the past to escape a rigorous Hindu caste hierarchy.
The Hindu nationalist outfits linked to Modi’s BJP have long targeted Christian missionaries and activists for allegedly trying to convert Dalits and impoverished Hindus to Christianity.
Nine out of 29 Indian states have formulated anti-conversion laws, which are often used to target religious minorities.