ICC Documents 361 Attacks on Christians in India in 2016
Unreported Incidents Could Be Ten Times Higher According to Christian Activist
01/19/2017 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern): International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that Christians in India were attacked at least 361 times in 2016, making 2016 one of the toughest years for Christians in India’s recent history.
ICC’s documentation of 361 attacks marks a significant rise from the 177 documented by the Evangelical Fellowship of India in 2015. The attacks recorded range from physical assaults to the vandalism of churches to social boycotts against Christians to even the rape of Christian women.
Most of these attacks were reportedly carried out by members of radical Hindu nationalist groups such as the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), or the Bajrangdal emboldened by the “tacit approval” of the current government led by Prime Minister Modi. According to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) 2016 Annual Report, “Members of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) tacitly supported these groups and used religiously-divisive language to further inflame tensions.”
The data collected by ICC reveals that religiously motivated violence against Christians took place in 24 states across India. Incidents were verified using primary sources or media publications documenting these incidents. Uttar Pradesh and Chhattisgarh were among the worst states, both recording 45 separate attacks on Christians each. Chhattisgarh remained particularly concerning as entire Christian communities in the Bastar District continue to be affected by village resolutions banning the practice of Christianity and where Christians face social boycotts due to their faith.
“It is not surprising that the number of incidents in 2016 is 361,” Dr. John Dayal, a human rights and religious freedom activist in India, told ICC. “Unreported incidents could arguably be ten times higher.”
“The environment remains charged,” Dr. Dayal continued. “Incitements to violence continue, as does the impunity enjoyed by the perpetrators of attacks. Government officials and police close their eyes and ears to the anti-minority slogans, refuse to record attacks, are sloppy in their investigations, and shoddy in their prosecutions. The respect for law has receded as never before.”
William Stark, ICC’s Regional Manager, said, “The escalating violence faced by Christians in India is unacceptable and must be curbed. Since the election of the BJP-led government in 2014, India has seen a steady trend of increasing attacks on Christians as well as increasing levels of religious intolerance. Sadly, although India’s constitution guarantees religious freedom for all, it seems that this core right is not being enforced for religious minorities. India’s government must do more to bring perpetrators of religiously motivated violence to justice and ensure that religious freedom, as stated in their constitution, is enjoyed by all citizens.”