New Delhi: The United Christian Forum (UCF), a human rights group based in New Delhi, has said that since January, at least 400 acts of violence against Christians took place across 23 states in India, the Siasat Daily reported.
The human rights body said the number has increased from 2022 when 274 occurrences were reported over the same time period.
In the first half of 2023, Uttar Pradesh topped the list with 155 incidents, followed by Chhattisgarh (84), Jharkhand (35), Haryana (32), Madhya Pradesh (21), Punjab (12), Karnataka (10), Bihar (nine), Jammu and Kashmir (eight), and Gujarat (seven).
In UP, Jaunpur reported the most number of cases of violence against Christians with 13 such occurrences, followed by Raebareli and Sitapur, with 11 incidents each.
Kanpur recorded ten instances, while Azamgarh and Kushinagar districts reported nine cases each.
According to the Christian body, June saw the highest number of attacks against the minority community with a total of 88 incidents or an average of three occurrences per day.
Several instances were also recorded in Uttarakhand, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Himachal Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Delhi, Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Chandigarh, and Goa, the body said in its press release.
The forum pointed out a consistent increase in the number of incidents of violence against Christians since 2014.
While there were a 147 occurrences in 2014, the attacks rose to 177 in 2015, 208 incidents in 2016, 240 in 2017, 292 in 2018, 328 in 2019, 279 in 2020, 505 in 2021, 599 in 2022, and now 400 occurrences in the first 190 days of 2023, the report said.
The human rights body further said that the ongoing violence in Manipur has also resulted in the destruction of countless churches and loss of lives.
The press release also highlighted the disproportionate arrests from the minority community, and said that despite being victims of these atrocities, Christians face a higher number of first information reports (FIRs) compared to the accused persons.
The organisation said that false allegations of conversions under the Freedom of Religion Act have led to 63 FIRs being lodged against Christians, while 35 pastors have been incarcerated with their bail requests denied.
The body also highlighted that bureaucratic delays have resulted in prolonged incarceration for even those who managed to secure a bail.