A report released by the Catholic Secular Forum has documented 120 attacks on Christians and their institutions across India in 2014. The report, which was made available to HT, lists five murders across India in little over a year.
Madhya Pradesh (23) and Chhattisgarh (19), both BJP-ruled states, along with Congress-ruled Karnataka (14) account for nearly half of all incidents across India.
Between December 2013 and December 2014, 7,000 Christians faced threats, violence and displacement. These included 1,600 women and 500 children. 300 members of the clergy and community leadership were also targeted during this period.
The report also expresses concern over certain moves of the Union government such as making Christmas ‘good governance day’ and foreign minister Sushma Swaraj’s call to make Bhagwad Gita the national book of India.
Joseph Dias, general secretary of CSF, told HT that the details of the report had been shared with human rights groups across the world. The CSF’s annual reports and their global reach offer some clues into the circumstances that led President Barack Obama to call for greater religious tolerance in India.
The CSF’s 2013 report, which counted 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.”
Former judge of Bombay and Karnataka high courts Michael Saldanha told HT, “Representatives of countries such as France, UK, Australia, Italy as well as the Vatican have approached us for information. These countries have then proceeded to take these matters up with the Indian government.”
Although several groups have met home minister KJ George in Karnataka over the attacks in the state, George claimed ignorance about the attacks. “I don’t think there have been those many attacks in Karnataka,” he said.