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At least 177 cases of Christian persecution in India in 2015, says report
A report from the Evangelical Fellowship of India has said at least 177 cases of Christian persecution happened in the country last year.
The Fellowship said most of these were of physical violence (68), with stopping church worship (18) and damaging churches (18), arresting pastors and Christian colleagues (18) and rape (3) also happening several times.
One rape case involved a nun at her convent.
Given that the Indian government only records instances of religious victimisation when the police formally file it, it's likely that many more instances of Christian persecution occurred in 2015 than the cases above.
Christians make up around 2.3% of India's population, equalling more than 25 million people.
The persecution of believers occurs despite freedom of religion being enshrined in the Indian constitution, and the country being a party to various declarations guarantee freedom of belief.
In 2015 victimisation was worst for Christians in the central states of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, and the northern state of Uttar Pradesh.
Muslims have also been experiencing significant levels of persecution in India, according to the EFI.
It says in six Indian states conversion to Christianity or Islam is forbidden.
The EFI has said this especially affects tribal peoples and the country's 180 million Dalits, formerly known as the Untouchable social group, because when they convert to Christianity they're denied basic rights such as the right to stand for political office, the right to work for the government and the right to higher education.
Dalits are the poorest social group in India.
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