The increasing attacks on Christians in Karnataka, has led to Christians being guarded with their actions.
According to a report by People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), 39 incidents of hate crimes have been reported against Christians in Karnataka from January to November 2021. Due to this, Christians are growing to be apprehensive about the attacks, and term these attacks to be baseless.
Ciya Abraham, a Christian living in Bengaluru said, “Forceful conversions go against the basic principle of Christianity all together. We don’t believe in aggressive behaviour. Anyone who wants to be a Christian has to truly believe in it. The attacks on the community are quite baseless.”
These increasing attacks on Christians forces them to stay a little alert and guarded about what they do. She further added, “The attacks are a trigger. When you go home you think about it, it is bound to make you fear. Christians are not known to be aggressive about their religion. But if this continues happening they will definitely be much more guarded in the sense of what they do. One thing which is quite new in our community is that people are increasingly talking about it.”
A joint venture by United Christians Forum, Association of Protection from Civil Rights, and United Against Hate, records Karnataka to be third in south India when it comes to hate crimes against Christians.
Shujayuthullah E., PUCL president said, “After September, there has been an increase in attacks in both rural and urban areas. They’re saying there are a lot of conversions. But there are no on-ground reports to prove that. There is fear in the community, especially in rural areas, where pastors are threatened.”
The 2011 census reports a decrease in the percentage of Christians in Karnataka in 30 years from 2.33 per cent to 1.87 per cent. The main perpetrators behind these attacks are Hindu groups including Bajrang Dal, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Hindu Jagrana Nedike, and others. These groups believe that Christians are forcefully converting Hindus to their religion.
Bhupendra Yadav, a member of RSS said, “The issue of conversions has now become very deep. Since the focus is now on Hindu-Muslims, Christians are taking advantage of it. Especially during Covid, when people wanted food and everything, missionaries took benefit of it and made it a mode of converting people. They tried to bribe people and converted most of the Hindus.”
He further added, “The Christians try to hide these conversions because they know they are doing wrong. They target poor Hindus and give them bribes of money, food, fridge, etc. to get them to convert to Christianity.”
Christians on the other hand believe that forceful conversions are against the core principles of Christianity and every conversion that happens is a personal choice. However, the action is not being taken properly against the perpetrators.
PUCL President Shujayuthullah E. also said, “The constitution does not have any space for these vigilante groups. The police have clear procedure; they must follow that. But they are not following that. Tehseen Poonewala judgment clearly says a nodal officer should be appointed in every district. And they must gather information on these types of attacks. But I don’t think they are following that.”
Experts say that the state should hold the final accountability on these attacks and be more efficient in the way arrests have been made.