India witnessed a record 486 incidents of violence against Christians during 2021, which ended on a violent note for the community that makes up only 2.3 percent of the country’s over 1.3 billion population.
Data collected by the United Christian Forum (UCF) showed an upward trend in such violent incidents over the last few years but 2021 was termed as the “most violent year” in the country’s history. The past two months witnessed over 100 incidents as if to warn the community during Christmas, it said.
The 486 incidents top the previous record of 328 incidents in 2019. They were also far more widespread than previously recorded with incidents reported in 20 states and two union territories.
The UCF in a press release said that violence against Christians has been increasing steadily since 2014 with 127 incidents in that year, 142 in 2015, 226 in 2016, 248 in 2017, 292 in 2018, 328 in 2019, 279 in 2020 (perhaps pandemic gave some relief to Indian Christians).
”In almost all incidents reported across India, vigilante mobs composed of religious extremists have been seen to either barge into a prayer gathering or round up individuals that they believe are involved in forcible religious conversions,” says the UCF’s latest report
The UCF attributed the high incidence of violence to “impunity.” Police recorded formal complaints in only 34 of the 486 cases due to which “such mobs criminally threaten, physically assault people in prayer, before handing them over to the police on allegations of forcible conversions.”
The UCF is an inter-denominational Christian organization that fights for the rights of members of India’s Christian minority. Its Convener A C Michael said the steady year-on-year increase in violence against a peace-loving community had escalated in the last quarter to alarming numbers.