The highest court in India has ordered the government to provide details of reported attacks on Christians across eight states.
Christians are reported to have been targeted in Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana.
At a hearing on 1 September, Supreme Court justices DY Chandrachud and Hima Kohli asked the Ministry of Home Affairs to verify the allegations.
The court order follows reports of Christians being attacked over 500 times in 2021 and the submission of a joint petition in March by the Archbishop of Bangalore, the National Solidarity Forum, United Christian Forum and Evangelical Fellowship of India calling for an end to the violence.
The Indian government responded to the reports by claiming that they were unfounded and “self-serving”.
Despite its rebuttals, the government has been ordered by the Supreme Court to establish the facts surrounding the reports and what response was made to the incidents.
A hearing has been scheduled for 6 December.
The Supreme Court’s intervention has been welcomed by Open Doors, a charity supporting persecuted Christians worldwide.
Open Doors spokesperson Rinzen Baleng said: “Considering the government’s complete denial of the rising assaults on Christians in India, the Supreme Court’s order for further verification of the matter is a positive step.
“It’s critical for the outcome of case that the authorities furnish truthful and correct information in a time bound manner because it will help establish that these assaults are not just limited to few individuals but against the larger Christian community.”