Attacks against Christians in India increased in the first six months of 2016, according to a new report by Evangelical Fellowship of India.
The EFI said that it had recorded 134 attacks on Christians in the first half of 2016, but it cautioned that the figures were a "fraction of the violence on the ground" since they were only enumerating "carefully corroborated" episodes of crimes.
The EFI statistics of persecution incidents in just six months up to June are close to the amount of violence recorded in 2014 (147) and 2015 (177).
The various forms of "violence" included murders of pastors, burning of churches, vandalism, burning of Bibles, rapes, destruction of Christian school properties, and forced re-conversions from Christianity to Hinduism.
In March, a mob of Hindu extremists attacked a Pentecostal church in the state of Chhattisgarh while the believers were gathered in worship. The assailants broke the musical equipment and chairs inside the church.
"They alleged that people were being converted here," said Arun Pannalal, the president of the Chhattisgarh Christian Forum. "The police came and seized vehicles the attackers came in. They desecrated the Bible and some of the pictures that were hung on the wall."
"Every day Christians are attacked. What is reported in the media is like the tip of an iceberg," a native Christian told International Christian Concern (ICC).
According to All India People's Forum, an NGO dedicated to social and economic development in India, the police was, at many instances, found complicit with the fundamentalist organizations in abetting the attacks.
"It is evident from the testimonies that the role of the police and administration is extremely lax. On some occasions the police have openly sided with the Bajrang Dal [a militant Hindu group], refusing to protect the Christians," AIPF was quoted as saying in an EFI report.
"On one occasion the police and administration even failed to turn up, having convened a gathering of Hindus and Christians, and possibly informed the Bajrang Dal that they would not turn up, thus setting the scene for organized mob violence against the Christians. On the occasions where the district administration and police have intervened, it has not been to enforce the rule of law and uphold the Constitution and arrest the Bajrang Dal mischief-makers; rather the ineffectual mode of 'dispute resolution' has been adopted."
Christian charity Open Doors reported that a girl as young as 13 years was drugged and raped by neighbors who were annoyed of her sharing faith with them.
"I used to share my faith with my neighbors. They ridiculed me for it. The ladies in my neighborhood often made fun of me, but one day they seemed very interested about my faith. They called me home to share about Jesus and served me juice, which I drank, not knowing that they planned to drug me. After the drink I lost consciousness. When I came back to my senses I realised I had been raped," the girl recounted.
Father Z. Devasagaya Raj, secretary of the Indian Catholic bishops' conference's office for Dalit and indigenous people, said that Christians are "facing physical, symbolic and structural violence" from Hindu fundamentalists around the country. "Every Indian should have the right to practice and promote their religion peacefully," he said.