Attacks on India's Christians continue despite PM's pledge on religious tolerance

ReutersChristians have held protests and candlelit vigils in the wake of the elderly nun's attack.

Attacks against the Christian minority in India continue despite a pledge from the Prime Minister to crack down on such violence.

According to India TV News, 14 vandals attacked the unfinished Williwarsh Church in Hisar in Haryana on Friday. The church's administrator, Father Subhash Chand, said that the vandals destroyed the church's cross and replaced it with a statue of the Hindu deity Hanuman. The priest added that the thieves stole a cooler and other items, and threatened to kill him. 

The priest has since lodged a complaint with the local police against the 14 men involved.

The attack came one day before a 70-year old nun from the Convent of Jesus and Mary, in Ranaghat near Kolkata, was brutally gang-raped by six men on Saturday.

Police said that the suspects cut the convent's telephone lines apparently in an effort to keep the residents from calling for help.  The perpetrators also broke into the chapel and vandalised holy relics.

The incident triggered outrage and protests across India.

The attacks occurred weeks after India Prime Minister Narendra Modi pledged that his government would make sure religious tolerance is observed in India.

"My government will ensure that there is complete freedom of faith and everyone has undeniable right to retain religion of his/her choice," he vowed.

Modi's statement garnered varied reactions from the community. Both supporters and critics of the Prime Minister urged the Indian head of state to "walk the talk" and take concrete action after his vow of religious tolerance. 

"We want the government to take strong actions against fringe elements and all people who disturb religious harmony, especially his own party men and [rightwing Hindu] groups who make provocative statements,"  Father Savarimuthu Shankar, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Delhi, declared after Modi's statement.