Attacks on churches in India appear to be on the rise. Four churches in the the country's capital have been targeted in the last seven weeks, according to The Times of India.
The most recent attack in New Delhi was on Our Lady of Graces Church. The perpetrator was caught on CCTV breaking glass and toppling a statue of Mary early yesterday morning.
Archbishop Anil JT Couto of New Delhi says that these attacks illustrate a disturbing pattern. Speaking to NDTV, Couto said, "A clear pattern of orchestrated attacks is emerging as more and more churches are targeted, vandalised and set on fire."
The most serious incident of the four occurred last month, when St Sebastian's Church in East Delhi was burnt down by attackers. Traces of kerosene were found inside the church premises and police confirm it was a case of intentional arson.
Speaking of the attacks, Archbishop Couto says, "This is very disturbing and we request the authorities to take adequate measures to bring to book the miscreants who are threatening to weaken the social fabric of this great nation."
Christians in India are not strangers to persecution. This year, the country ranks higher than ever on Open Doors' World Watch List – a list highlighting the 50 most difficult countries to be a Christian – reaching number 21.
India's Christians feared a rise in persecution following the election of Narendra Modi and BJP last May. In the first 100 days of the new government's rule there were over 600 attacks on Christian and Muslim groups, despite promises of greater protection for religious minorities.