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'Attacks on Christians: UP records most incidents of violence, TN-Chhattisgarh follow'

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The Christian community in India has been facing attacks from right-wing extremist groups across the country.

Uttar Pradesh, the most populous state in India, has recorded the highest number of incidents (88) this year, followed by Tami Nadu (40) and Chhattisgarh (24), as per ADF India that tracks the violence against Christians and attacks on Churches, says a report.

Surprisingly, FIRs are registered in less than 10% of the cases that have come in public domain, the ADF report reveals. In the latest incident, armed members of a right-wing extremist group had attacked a cogregation in Kolhapur in Maharashtra.

The attack took place just when Christians gathered for prayer ahead of Christmas. The attackers were carrying swords, iron rods and glass bottles. Some women resisted and threw chilli powder. 

Some of the attackers who belong to neighbouring Karnataka have been identified though most of them are yet to be arrested. The 'Violence monitor' suggests that there were 256 incidents this year--from January till November.

In all, 256 incidents were recorded this year till November. However, only 17 FIRs were registered. The incidents include mob violence, attacks on pastors and people, stopping church-goers from praying, closure of house churches, amongst others.

The highest incidents were reported from Uttar Pradesh, followed by Tamil Nadu, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand. In other states, Telangana reported 17 incidents, Bihar (10), Madhya Pradesh (6), Odisha (5), Punjab (5), Andhra Pradesh (4). Maharashtra, Rajasthan, West Bengal and Haryana registered 3 incidents each.

In UP, more than two dozen incidents were reported from Jaunpur alone. ADF India says that the Christian community in India is facing unprecedented violence and discrimination on account of its religious identity. Such incidents often go unreported and unaddressed.

Tehmina Arora, Director, ADF India says, "Despite huge amount of damage to properties and people, authorities have done nothing in terms of compensation. There is not even a talk about it. In terms of media coverage, there are few media houses which are reporting unbiased news but largely the mainline media are conspicuous by their silence".

A press release issued recently said that there is a clear pattern of religious intolerance against Christians across UP. "Since beginning of September 2018, over 40 house-churches are not being allowed to conduct prayer service by police under the pretext of maintaining peace. Police have threatened pastors of arrest if they conduct prayer service".