Data: Rise in Attacks on Christians in India, Up Four Times in 11 Years (2012-2022) ( The Wire )

There have been 525 attacks against Christians in India just in the first eight months of 2023. This year will likely cross the violent record set in 2022, and in 2021 before that.

By Jahnavi Sen / The Wire

New Delhi: On Thursday, September 7, the United Christian Forum (UCF) – a civil society organisation focused on Christian issues, based in Delhi – released a stunning statistic: there have been 525 attacks against Christians in India just in the first eight months of 2023.

If this trend were to continue, this would prove to be one of the most violent and difficult years the Christian community in India has ever seen, breaking the recent record set by 2022, and 2021 before that. Vigilante violence against Muslims and Dalits has been accompanied by a sharp rise in attacks against Christians in India in recent years, often managing to escape the headlines.

The numbers for this year are likely to be particularly high, given the violence in Manipur – where hundreds of churches have been destroyed in the last four months. A petition in the Supreme Court puts the figure of places of worship destroyed at 642. The Archbishop of Imphal in June said 249 churches were destroyed in just 36 hours. The UCF data does not include incidents from Manipur.

“All these incidents of violence are by mob violence led by so called vigilante groups of particular faith who are allegedly receiving support from people in power,” the UCF said in a press release.

According to the 2011 Census, Christians make up about 2.3% of India’s population.

The Evangelical Fellowship of India, which was founded in 1951, describes itself as an alliance of evangelical Christians in the country. “Its membership includes over 54 protestant denominations and related congregations (over 65,000 Churches), over 200 Church related mission agencies and organizations and thousands of individual members,” the organisation said in a 2018 report. Over the years, EFI has been collecting data from across the country on attacks faced by Christian community – in the form of violence, attacks on churches or prayers meetings, harassment of those following their faith, ostracisation and limiting access to community resources, and false allegations, particularly those pertaining to ‘forced conversions’.

The National Crime Records Bureau does not collect disaggregated data on attacks against Christians. NCRB data also makes the heavily contested claim that riots have declined in India and the situation is more peaceful in recent years.

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