Rape, murder, assault. What Christians in India face on an almost daily basis

A Catholic nun from the Missionaries of Charity, the global order of nuns founded by Mother Teresa, signs a banner to show solidarity with a 75-year-old nun who was raped during an armed assault on a convent school in Kolkata in March last year. Christians in India have been saying for some time that not enough is being done to protect their religion.Reuters

Anti-Christian violence in India has surged to an "alarming level" according to the latest report from World Watch Monitor, with more than 30 attacks a month.

The problem is particularly bad in states ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party of the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, which has a reputation for pursuing a nationalist Hindu agenda. 

Tomson Thomas, coordinator for the advocacy group Persecution Relief, based in the east of the country, told WWM: "There is an agenda and strategy behind it. There is an increasing sense of audacity among Hindu nationalist groups blatantly carrying out attacks on Christians."

Persecution Relief recorded three significant attacks on Christians in just five days towards the end of July.

In one of the attacks, three Christians had to be hospitalised. Umesh Patel, a student, his father, Sudhama and their friend Kiran Vishwakarma were assaulted and the Patel's house ransacked simply for being Christian. Six months previously, Umesh had already spent time in jail for distributing Bibles. 

The second attack was on a Christian girl, Sangeeta Siri, aged just 14, who was raped and murdered.  

Both these two attacks were in Chhattisgarh state.

The girl's family converted to Christianity 18 years ago and her family believes it was a revenge attack on them for resisting pressure to return to Hinduism.

The third attack, in neighbouring Madhya Pradesh involved a Pentecostal pastor and one of his flock being abducted and tortured. When police arrived, it was the Christians who were arrested, charged with with hurting Hindu religious sentiments and held in custody.

Thomas told WWM: "The state machinery is being abused to persecute the Christians. The fundamentalists beat up Christians and then use the police to torment them further. It is becoming a daily occurrence."