By BosNewsLife Asia Service with reporting by BosNewsLife's Stefan J. Bos
NEW DELHI, INDIA (BosNewsLife)-- Thousands of Christians faced severe persecution and at least five believers were murdered in India last year, a Catholic body said in a report monitored by BosNewsLife Tuesday, February 10.
The report released by the India-based Catholic Secular Forum (CSF) documented 120 attacks on Christians and their institutions, including churches, across India in 2014 alone.
It said between December 2013 and December 2014 some 7,000 Christians "faced threats, violence and displacement."
Among those targeted were 1,600 women, about 500 children and 300 members of the clergy and community leadership, added the report, which was published by India's Hindustan Times newspaper.
The five Christians who were reportedly killed in attacks added to the many believers killed in previous years, BosNewsLife established.
Most violence occurred in the states of Madhya Pradesh (23), Chhattisgarh (19) and Karnataka (14) who account for nearly half of all anti-Christian incidents across India, according to CSF investigators.
Madhya Pardesh and Chhattisgarh are ruled by the right-wing Indian People's Party (BJP), whose supporters oppose the spread of Christianity in the heavily Hindu nation, while Kartnaka is ruled by the Congress Party, which once fought against British colonial rule in India.
CSF also expressed concern over reported moves by India's BJP-led government to turn Christmas into an annual 'Good Governance Day' and Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj’s call to make a 700-verse Hindu scripture, known as Bhagwad Gita, "the national book of India".
Indian officials had no immediate comment, but the the Hindustan Times said CSF’s annual reports prompted U.S. President Barack Obama to call for greater religious tolerance in India.
CSF’s 2013 report, which counted 4,000 attacks against Christians in India, was reportedly used by Indian Christian groups in California to lobby for making minority protection part of India-U.S. talks.
Additionally, representatives of countries such as Australia, Britain, France and Italy as well as the Vatican "have approached us for information," said CSF Chairman Michael Saldanha, a former judge at the Bombay and Karnataka high courts.
"These countries have then proceeded to take these matters up with the Indian government,” he told the Hindustan Times.
Christians comprise some 2.3 percent of India's heavily Hindu population of over 1.2 billion people, said the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
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