December 15, 2021 10:50:31 am
As many as 39 incidents of hate crimes against the Christian community were reported in Karnataka since the beginning of 2021, during which the police were found “to be colluding with Hindutva groups,” a report by the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) said.
“Given the frequency and intensity of these attacks, our report relies on the Christian community’s narratives of surviving majoritarian violence. The members of the Christian community, especially in rural Karnataka, continue to face threats of violence, discrimination, and survival during their everyday lives,” the report stated. It added that several other similar cases have gone undocumented so far.
“Almost in every instance of mob violence studied in this report, it can be observed in the chain of events that the police have colluded with Hindutva groups… the police actively work to criminalise the lives of Christians and stop them from organising prayer meetings,” the report states.
“This complicit role of the police emboldens a culture of intolerance and bigotry. Through the complicity, police have become an arm of social segregation strengthening of such Hindutva forces,” it added.
In most cases, while the police arrived minutes after the mob stormed the prayer meeting, they “join the Hindutva organisations in accusing the pastors” of converting people against their will. In several instances, the police, instead of protecting the victims of violence, take the pastors and believers to police stations and book cases, it added.
The report also alleged that despite serious efforts by lawyers from the Christian community, in some of the cases, the police refused to file a complaint against the mob leaders. “…in some instances, the police have tried to broker peace between the two groups.”
Meanwhile, the report noted that the media coverage on the issue was “a mix of specious arguments, misleading statements, outright falsehoods, one-sided reporting and bias in favour of Hindutva forces and against Christianity.” It added that most reports were sensationalist in nature and seemed to often deploy the device of sting operations “as if someone had been caught doing something illegal, whereas constitutionally, the activities are not only legal but an exercise of fundamental rights.”
However, PUCL dismissed claims of forced mass conversions by citing statistics from the Census. “It said that according to the 1971 Census, Christians comprised 2.60% of the population of India. In 1981 they [Christians] were 2.44%, in 1991, 2.33%, in 2001 2.18% and at present, they are 2.30%,” it noted.
Further explaining that the statistics do nothing to suggest that the Christian population was increasing, the report added: “At the very outset, these numbers are proof that forced mass conversion is a myth, a bogey that is being used to criminalise the practice of faith by Christians.”
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