Anti-Christian violence has come to define life for Christians in India, where an average of one Christian is attacked every 40 hours and that number has been worsening.
In another tragic incident, a nine-year-old girl whose family just converted to Christianity was kidnapped, gang-raped, and strangled to death with a telephone wire:
A nine-year-old girl from an Indian family that had recently converted to Christianity was gang-raped and murdered on Sunday, 5 August, in Punjab state.
Anjali Masih was playing with her friends in the city of Gurdaspur, near the Pakistan border, when a group of men lured her away by showing her a guava.
She was then gang-raped and strangled with a telephone wire.
Local Christians told World Watch Monitor that there has been a rise in anti-Christian feeling in the area, which is predominantly Hindu and Sikh, since a number of families converted to Christianity.
One Christian, who did not wish to be named, suggested the brutal attack could have been carried out by people wanting to discourage others from changing religions.
India has seen a wave of anti-Christian violence in recent years, with a notable increase since Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist BJP came to power in 2014.
However, Punjab state has been largely spared such violence. After the murder of a pastor in the Punjab city of Ludhiana last year, one local Christian told World Watch Monitor: “The state of Punjab is very safe in India for Christians. There are Sikhs living here – they are also a religious minority in India. We are also a minority, but never before have we had any threats. But unfortunately this has happened and we are all shocked about how this is possible. Nobody knows how this can happen.”
Tamil Nadu state in the south has seen the highest number of religiously motivated attacks, but the violence has been spreading, with World Watch Monitor reporting last week a rise in incidents in the two Telugu language-speaking southern states, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.
States with so-called “anti-conversion laws” have been particularly affected. These laws, though on the face of it aiming to prevent forced conversions, in effect discourage all conversions. Those accused of attempting to convert others to another religion often face mob violence.
The states with such laws are: Uttarakhand, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat and Jharkhand. (source)