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Attacks against Christians in India have been rising at an alarming rate, according to a new report.
The All India Christian Council (AICC) recorded an increase of almost 20 per cent in attacks against Christians in 2016 alone. It says physical violence against Christians is up 40 per cent and murders have doubled.
In the report titled 'Atrocities on Christians in India' it stated there is an attack every 40 hours and is no longer confined to a few states as the violence has now spread to 23 states.
Incidents of church workers being beaten, threatened and killed as well as churches and Christian schools being bombed, torched, vandalised and demolished are all included in the report. It also says there have been attempts to force Christians to renounce their faith and convert to Hinduism.
Right-wing Hindu nationalism has been gaining ground, particularly since the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) took power in 2014.
India's caste system today goes beyond Hinduism as it exists in many of the country's religions.
Dalit Hindus who convert to Christianity are called Dalit Christians in Indian society are classed as untouchables, are often oppressed and fall outside the Indian caste system.
In May 2016, 16 Dalit Christians had to flee their homes after refusing to worship Hindu gods in Jharkhand state, eastern India.
Five Indian states have now imposed anti-conversion laws and there have been moves to bring in nationwide legislation aimed at outlawing evangelism to prevent Hindus from converting.
The AICC logged 108 violent incidents against Christians in India in the first six months alone of 2016.
A separate report by the Evangelical Fellowship of India found there were more attacks against Christians in India in 2016 than in the two previous years combined.
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