The year gone by was the worst one for Indian Christians in the history of post-Independence India, a report released by the Catholic Secular Forum (CSF) has stated.
Statistics compiled by the forum, which has been documenting cases related to religious persecution of Christians for decades, show there have been at least 365 major attacks on community members as well as institutions for practising and spreading their faith in 2015. “There were 120 attacks in 2014. The attacks have more than tripled in the last one year,” CSF general secretary Joseph Dias told HT.
Retired Karnataka high court judge MF Saldanha, who helped compile the report, pointed out that the rise in violent crimes against Christians has been noted by rights organisations outside the country too. “India has moved up to number 17 in the global Christian persecution index put out by Open Doors, an international watchdog,” he said.
Eight Christians were killed and at least 8,000 attacked or severely harassed by extremists in different parts of the country in 2015. Of the 8,000 victims, 4,000 were women and 2,000 were children, the report added. Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh once again topped the charts in this regard.
Squarely blaming Hindutva groups for the trend, the CSF report said: “There has been a very marked rise in attacks on minorities with the swearing in of BJP-led governments at the Centre as well as the states.”
The report pointed out that while a majority of such incidents go unreported because “the victims are too scared to complain”, only the ones brought to the attention of the police were documented.
“There were some shocking cases of persecution that we were forced to leave out because the police and politicians forced the victims to compromise with their attackers,” Dias said.
The CSF’s 2013 report, which recorded 4,000 offences against Christians in India, was used by Indian Christian groups in California to lobby for minority protection as one of the terms of reference for India-US talks. In a February 2013 memorandum, these groups sought a “house resolution that would make human rights and justice for religious minorities a priority in US-India talks”.