Violence against Christians in India increased between January to October this year compared to the same period last year, rights groups say.
At least 275 violent incidents were recorded during this time by the United Christian Forum (UCF) for Human Rights and Alliance for Defending Freedom (ADF) as opposed to 218 in the previous year.
The UCF is an inter-denominational Christian organization in India that fights for the rights of the Christian minority.
Of the 275 cases of violence, 192 came in the form of intimidation and threats by “vigilante” mobs.
On average, 27.5 incidents occurred each month over the 10 months, compared with 20 in 2018.
At least 145 women and 106 children were injured as a result of mob violence, said Tehmina Arora, director of ADF, a faith-based legal advocacy organization.
Since the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won power in federal elections in 2014, attacks on Christians and Muslims have grown steadily, political and social activists say.
From a total of 147 recorded for 2014, there were 292 last year.
They also claim the BJP, which won a second term in office in 2019, and hard-line Hindu nationalists want to make India for Hindus only.
In many cases of violence against minorities there is a tacit understanding between the perpetrators (often Hindu mobs and cow vigilante groups) and police, who enjoy the patronage of local political leaders or officials, according to A.C. Michael, a former Catholic member of the Minorities Commission in Delhi state.
This is seen by people not filing First Information Reports (FIRs) with police against perpetrators, he said.
From the 275 cases the rights groups recorded this year only 32 FIRs were filed, Michael said.
The low number could be due to fear of reprisals, he added.
According to Open Doors International’s World Watch List of 50 countries, India is the 10th most dangerous country in the world for Christians to live in compared with 28th in 2014.
Open Doors is a non-denominational group that supports persecuted Christians in more than 70 countries.
“Nobody should be persecuted because of their faith. It is worrying to see these horrendous acts of mobocracy continuing even after a slew of directions to the government [to clamp down on them] from the Supreme Court,” said Arora, who is also a lawyer at India’s Supreme Court.
“Unless political forces stop encouraging people to take power into their own hands, a mob culture is likely to become the norm,” the lawyer said.
“The police must act to ensure that religious minorities are protected. By failing to take action against violent mobs, the police are fueling this trend,” she added.