Field Notes: Revealing The Modus Operandi Of Hindutva Groups Against Christians In UP


“The complainant is not the aggrieved person,” a source in UP told me sometime in June, as we met in Varanasi to discuss the fate of cases registered under the state’s anti-conversion law.

No exact figures were available in the public domain regarding how many FIRs have been registered since the law came into force in November 2020. 

The lawyers following up on conversion cases seemed exasperated due to the sheer volume of incidents related to Christians named in first information reports (FIRs). 

If the conversion complaints were not filed on behalf of those supposedly affected, then why were the police registering such FIRs?

Even when I began collating FIRs registered under the anti-conversion law and was coordinating with at least five district court lawyers, I still didn’t know the extent of “bogus FIRs” filed mostly on behalf of Hindutva outfits in UP. 

A challenge in this story was how to make sense of more than 100 FIRs and dig out data from this subset. 

So, for data analysis, FIRs from different police stations had to be transcribed from Hindi to English and then tabulated into various categories to understand the trend emerging from this dataset. 

And then, during the compilation of FIRs and related bail orders, words like “aakrosh (anger) among local Hindus” and phrases such as “soochna mil rahi thi” ( we had prior information) caught my attention. 

Based on an analysis of 101 FIRs and 37 bail orders, a pattern of vigilantism by Hindutva groups like the Bajrang Dal, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh emerged. 

As the story shows, such FIRs filed on behalf of third parties are not legally tenable, yet the police continued to entertain such frivolous complaints and register cases. 

The trickle-down effect of such brazen misuse of conversion law has instilled fear among Christians. 

Most of the accused I contacted were reluctant to tell their story. It was only after repeated assurances that their version was vital that they agreed to speak to me.

A characteristic feature of the bail orders in connection with the anti-conversion I studied was that not all bail orders were available on the e-courts app when I tried accessing the judgment of a particular district court. 

It was unclear why the courts were not uploading orders online. As part of the second story, the subset of bail orders was limited to 37. 

The bail orders were typically three to four pages, comprising mainly of the arguments the prosecution and defence presented. 

The district court judges don’t delve into detailed commentary on the case. Yet, in the last few lines of observation by lower court judges, a pattern was evident in how they were pulling up the police for carrying out callous investigations. 

You can read Akanksha Kumar’s stories here and here

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