Attacks on Indian Christians on the rise as state drafts anti-conversion law

New Delhi, Dec 14 (EFE).- The People’s Union for Civil Liberties, a prominent human rights group in India, on Tuesday flagged rising attacks against the minority Christian community in the southern state of Karnataka, even as regional authorities are set to table a controversial bill against religion conversion.

“In 2021, targeted attacks took place under the false garb of conversion. These attacks on Christians during prayer meetings in rural parts of Karnataka have become far more prevalent and violent this year,” the PUCL said in a report titled “Criminalizing the Practice of Faith,” released on Tuesday.

The group said it had documented 39 cases of hate crimes against Christians in Karnataka between January and November 2021.

“The members of the Christian community especially in rural Karnataka continue to face threats of violence, discrimination and survival in the course of their everyday lives,” said the report.

The attacks have been linked to right-wing groups following the Hindutva ideology, which seeks to establish the supremacy of Hindus in the country and is backed by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.

The rise in violence against Christians, ostensibly to oppose conversion – despite the PUCL insisting that the population proportion of the minority religion has declined in India in the last five decades – has been criticized by several rights groups.

A report released in October by the Association for Protection of Civil Rights and two other groups documented 300 cases of violence against Christians across 21 states, especially pertaining to north India.

“To make matters worse the (Karnataka) Chief Minister and Home Minister have both given multiple public statements stating their intentions to table an anti-conversion bill” in the ongoing winter session of the state assembly, PUCL said.

The bill has triggered concerns among minorities and led to criticism by the opposition in the region, also ruled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP.

The latest attacks against the Christian minority took place over the weekend, when a man armed with a machete broke into a church in the city of Belgavi on Saturday, while a mob interrupted a prayer in Kolar on Sunday.

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