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Rising Attacks on Christians in India Raise Concerns, Release International Warns of Denial

Release International, a prominent religious freedom charity, has expressed deep concern over the rising number of attacks against Christians in India. 

They fear that there is a lack of acknowledgement within India about the surge in anti-Christian violence. The organization suggests that these attacks have been fueled by right-wing nationalism and an alarming increase in Christians being arrested under anti-conversion laws.

According to the United Christian Forum (UCF), there have been 525 recorded violent attacks against Christians in India up to the end of August. This figure surpasses the total number of incidents recorded in the entire previous year, which stood at 505. The UCF further highlights that these attacks are not just increasing on an annual basis but also on a month-to-month basis. The growing violence appears to coincide with the passing of stringent anti-conversion laws in nearly 40% of India’s 28 states, with most of these states being governed by the ruling nationalist BJP government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Anti-conversion laws are intended to address conversions carried out through force or allurement. However, the broad language used in these laws has led to concerns that any form of charitable work could be considered a form of bribery. Congregations accused of forced conversion have faced severe consequences, including the ransacking of their buildings and the destruction of their property. Human Rights Watch (HRW) has noted that these laws are often misused by the police to target Christians, particularly those from the Dalit or Adivasi communities.

The United Christian Forum reports that as many as 520 Christians have been arrested and accused of forced conversions. According to International Christian Concern, in just one state, Uttar Pradesh, nearly 400 Christians have been charged and jailed since 2020, with 50 arrests occurring in September alone.

Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, is at the forefront of the UCF’s list of states where Christians face the greatest hostility. Other states on the list include Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand. In Manipur, around 254 churches were damaged in recent tribal clashes. The UCF contends that these incidents are typically characterized by mob violence led by vigilante groups.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has also drawn attention to the increasing attacks against religious minorities in India, particularly Muslims and Christians. They argue that over the last decade, there has been a noticeable uptick in both the number and frequency of attacks against religious minorities in India. HRW suggests that under the governance of the BJP, violence against minorities is becoming more normalized, and impunity is becoming institutionalized.

Paul Robinson, the CEO of Release International, has voiced his deep concern, saying, “The rise in attacks against Christians in India is deeply alarming. Equally worrying is the denial in India that anti-Christian violence is indeed growing. We hope these investigations and reports will be received as a clear call to both India and the international community to stop the violence.”

The United Christian Forum and other organizations have recorded a significant rise in violent incidents, and the situation is particularly dire in states like Uttar Pradesh. Human Rights Watch also highlights the growing threat to religious minorities in India, emphasizing the need for action both domestically and internationally to curb this violence.

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