United Christian Forum (UCF), a human rights group based in New Delhi, has appealed to the President of India for protection of the constitutional rights of the Christian community, which has suffered escalating violence since 2022.
In a memorandum expressing grave concern over 597 incidents of violence committed against Christians from 21 states in India, it beseeched the President to urge the Union and State governments to protect the rights and freedom of the Christian community to practise its faith, run its educational institutions and live with dignity throughout India, as its safety has come under severe threat.
UCF condemned “aggression by vigilante mobs comprising religious extremists” and denounced acts of violence against Christian leaders and members, church arson and vandalism, disruption of prayer services and restrictions on religious gatherings, and forced conversions to Hinduism. The statement also detailed harrowing incidents of assault perpetrated against three Christian tribal women in Narayanpur, and 1,000 Christian Adivasis including pregnant women, children and elderly in the Chhattisgarh state.
UCF noted that local authorities have been unable to diffuse these situations and failed to investigate or prosecute mobs and offenders, yet over 100 first information reports (FIR) – many of which filed by members of religious extremist groups who are ineligible to file such complaints – were registered against Christians in 2022.
On the other hand, FIRs filed by Christians failed to be registered. Highlighting lapses to be addressed such as lack of CCTVs in police stations and illegal detentions, UCF strongly called for government intervention to constitute a national or state redressal commission to address issues of targeted violence against minorities.
In concluding, UCF petitioned for strengthening of human rights monitoring mechanisms, appropriate redress for victimised Christian individuals and institutions, and for FIRs to be immediately registered upon receipt of complaints by victims of religion-based violence, among others.
Dated 23 February 2023