(ZENIT News – Aid to the Church in Need / Manipur, 07.27.2023).- Violence in Manipur, India has been going on for more than two months, and has resulted in the loss of hundreds of churches and many lives. Added to this reality are 400 violent incidents against Christians in 23 states of India. The state that has experienced most violence is Uttar Pradesh, with 155 incidents reported. Last year during the same period – January to June –, 274 cases were presented of violence against Christians.
Six districts of Uttar Pradesh has registered such incidents: 13 in Jaunpur, 11 in Rae Bareilly and Sitapur, 10 in Kanpur and 9 in each of the districts of Azamgarh and Kushinagar. However, the greatest number of violent incidents against Christians is in district of Bastar in Chhattisgarh with 31 incidents.
According to reports registered by the United Christian Forum (UCF), the month of June 2023 witnessed the greatest number of cases against Christians with 88, that is, almost three a day. March followed with 66, February with 63, January with 62, May with 50 and April with 47. During the same period last year, sadly, January was at the top of the table with 121 incidents, almost four a day. After 40 cases in May, there were 31 in February, 29 in April, 28 in March and 25 in June.
All these violent incidents against Christians occurred throughout the country, regardless of the political party in power. 23 states are witnessing such violence against Christians. Uttar Pradesh leads with 155 incidents, followed by Chhattisgarh with 84, Jharkhand with 35, Haryana with 32, Madhya Pradesh with 21, Punjab with 12, Karnataka with 10, Bihar with 9, Jammu and Cashmere with 8, Gujarat with 7, Uttarakhand with 4, Tamil Nadu with 3, West Bengal with 3, Himachal Pradesh with 3, Maharashtra with 3, Odisha with 2, Delhi with 2, Andhra Pradesh with 1, Assam with 1, Chandigarh with 1 and Goa also with 1.
The UCF reports that the incidents have been increasing markedly and constantly since 2014: there were 147 cases in 2014; 177 in 2015; 208 in 2016; 240 9n 2017; 292 in 2018; 328 in 2019; 279 in 2020; 505 in 2021; 500 in 2022 and 400 in the first 1909 days of 2023.
Despite being victims of all these atrocities, Christians are the ones that face more complaints than the accused, as the police doesn’t investigate or prosecute the perpetrators of the violence. There are 63 complaints presented against Christians over false accusations of conversions under the Law of Freedom of Religion. There are still 35 Pastors in prison with bail repeatedly denied. Moreover, those that are free on bail are imprisoned due to bureaucratic delays in the process of their release. Several representations of leaders of the Christian community continue waiting for an answer from the President, the Prime Minister and the Minister of the Interior.
Petition to the Supreme Court of India
The matter reached a hearing on July 10, 2023 and the Indian government opposed the petition. It was then that lawyer Colin Gonsalves decided to present a petition so that the special investigation team would include officials outside the respective states to register complaints, investigate and prosecute. He also requested police protection petition meetings held by the Christian community and the provision of legal assistance to all the victims. For now, the last thing known is that the next hearing [would] be on July 14, 2023.