The highest number of attacks on members of the Christian community and their places of worship in India has been in Uttar Pradesh, found a fact-finding report released on Sunday, according to The Hindu.
The report, which is a joint initiative of non-governmental organisations Association for Protection of Civil Rights, the United Christian Forum and United Against Hate, has found 305 such cases across the country between January and September.
The data is based on calls received on the United Christian Forum’s helpline. As many as 1,362 calls were received on the Christian forum’s helpline, reported the Hindustan Times.
The report, “Christians Under Attack in India”, showed that there have been 288 mob attacks and in 28 cases, places of worship had been damaged. Of these 305 cases, 66 incidents were reported from Uttar Pradesh, followed by 47 from Chhattisgarh and 32 from Karnataka.
“September witnessed the highest number of incidents with 69, followed by 50 in August and 37 in January,” the organisations said in a statement.
The report found that 1,331 women, 588 members of tribal communities and 513 Dalits were injured in these attacks, reported The Indian Express. It also said that the police did not allow congregations to be held in at least 85 instances.
Many attacks might not be documented: Bengaluru archbishop
Bengaluru Archbishop Peter Machado, who released the report, said that the document might have missed many attacks as it was based only on calls made to the Christian forum’s helpline.
Machado, however, stressed that the report has not stated that “most of these attacks were led by right-wing groups and the police have failed to act on them”.
The archbishop noted that the most number of such attacks reported in south India was in Karnataka.
“Certain behaviour or certain utterances from the [Karnataka] government, certain attitude from the government is the reason that this [attacks] is allowed and tolerated,” he said. “This can go on and is sad for us.”
Machado said that earlier such incidents were reported from interior areas of the country where there are fewer members of the Christian community and small churches. “But to happen in Hubballi, Dharwad, Bengaluru means people are taking the law into their hands,” he said.
He noted that the police in Belagavi district have told members of the community not to hold prayer meetings during the legislature session.
“Police sent a message not to hold prayers for 15 days in Belagavi when the legislature session is on,” the archbishop said, according to The Times of India. “It is like saying do not eat food for some days.”
He added: “Faith is the background in which all good works are done. To say you do not have prayers is not the way. On the other hand, if they had fortified every church, every place, that would have given them a lot of credit.”
Machado also said that the Christian community would suffer if the anti-conversion Bill is passed in the state. He pointed out that there is trouble in Karnataka even when the Bill has not been passed.
“If passed, it will trouble all of us and leave us helpless,” he said. “This Bill was passed in Odisha in 1967. After 30 years, the state was burning. Over 300 churches were burnt, 3,000 houses were set on fire and 67 people died. It will cause a similar situation here too. I request the government to not pass the Bill as it will trouble the Christian community.”
The Karnataka government is planning to bring an anti-conversion law in the state, On September 29, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai had said that the state government was planning to enact a law banning forceful religious conversions. He had claimed that such conversions had become rampant in the state.
Machado had earlier too opposed the move to bring the anti-conversion law.
“The government’s proposal for ACB [anti-conversion bill] is unnecessary as it would affect religious harmony,” Machado had said in October. “It is arbitrary as it tends to target only the Christian community.”