As many as 305 incidents of violence in 273 days of 2021 were reported on UCF toll-free helpline number 1-800-208-4545, said a joint fact-finding report released during a joint press conference held in the national capital on October 21. The joint Press Conference was organised by United Against Hate (UAH) along with Association for Protection of Civil Rights (APCR) and United Christian Forum (UCF) to address a series of attacks against Christians and churches in UP and other parts of the country.
The helpline number was launched on 19th January 2015 with the aim of helping people in distress, especially those who are not aware of the law of the land and the system by providing them with the way to legal remedies and reaching out to public authorities.
September 2021 witnessed the highest, 69 incidents followed by 50 in August, 37 in January, 33 in July, 27 in March, April and June each, 20 in February and 15 in May. Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh recorded 169 incidents of Violence against Christians in total in the last nine months with Karnataka 32 incidents of hate incidents against Christians. As many as 1331 women were injured in these incidents and 588 Tribals and 513 Dalits were also attacked. Nearly three hundred incidents of mob attacks were reported in the last eight months.
Twenty-three incidents of causing damage to the places of worship/churches too were reported. Police or other concerned authorities disallowed 85 times the assembly of people for religious activities under one pretext or the other. Ten fresh cases were filed under the Freedom of Religion Act in this year. Recent one is the attack by over 200 Hindutva mobs in a Church in Roorkee, Uttarakhand on October 3.
The Press Conference was moderated by Banojyotsna Lahiri, who addressed the increasing attacks on minorities in South Asia and the lack of action on the part of the government and its police.
Mr. A.C. Michael, National Coordinator of United Christian Forum, defined the term “minority” and addressed how minorities under attack are not allowed to practise their faith. The religious gatherings are attacked and police pressure forces them into silence.
Pearl, Sadhana and Eva, the victims of violence took place in Roorkee on October 3, 2021 described the horrific incident. A mob of around 300 people, barged in the church and vandalised it. CCTV cameras were destroyed, Christian worshippers were molested and beaten. They pointed out that the attackers were people from the neighbourhood and well educated. No arrests have been made and the harassment hasn’t stopped even after two weeks of the violence.
Ms. Minakshi Singh, President of Unity in Compassion, pointed out that the Christian community is being accused of carrying out ‘conversions’ on a large scale but data states otherwise. Over the years, a reduction in the Christian population has been noted. She pointed out the police atrocities against minorities.
Nadeem Khan, Founder of United Against Hate, compared the state’s attitude towards attacks on minorities in India and Bangladesh. The Indian government is ‘protecting’ these groups as if they belong to a party, he alleged while pointing out that this non-responsive government must be questioned.
Prashant Tandon, a senior journalist, addressed the modus operandi of the attacks on minorities. He pointed out that either RSS or any of its sub groups puts allegations of conversion against minorities. Later, they are attacked and there is no action taken against these acts of violence.
The Fact-Finding team comprising members of UAH, APCR and UCF recorded testimonies of victims during vandalization of a church in Roorkee, noted that despite prior complaints by Lance family Roorkee Police did not provide security to the church and family prior to attack. At the time of the attack the police were informed and calls were made to Civil Lines police station which is less than a kilometre away from the church but the police team arrived when the violent mob dispersed on its own after the attack. Prima facie the attack looked meticulously planned to build a fake narrative of conversion. Breaking of CCTV cameras at the entrance of the prayer hall and taking away the DVR indicate the planning and motive of not leaving evidence behind.
The Report recorded that the daughter of the pastor was molested by a man with the mob while some women from the mob slapped and abused her and also snatched her phone away.
The Report also recorded the testimonies of victims of 89 other incidents of hate crimes against Christians like the recent attack of Hindutva mob on Christians at Mau, targeting of two nuns at Mau by extremist groups, etc. in different parts of the country in recent past.