A 35-year-old Christian man was shot dead and three others were injured in a deadly attack on a Pentecostal church in Amritsar, Punjab.
According to reports from UCA news, seven unknown assailants opened fire on Christians when they were leaving the church after a special prayer meeting on October 23.
"Four persons armed with guns entered the church and opened fire at us. I laid flat on the ground and saved my life," Jaspal Masih, son of the church pastor, told UCA News.
Masih's cousin Prince Atwal, 35, died on the spot after he was shot in the head and chest.
Local police have arrested three of the seven attackers and are searching for the rest.
According to Manish, Randeep Gill, who had previously disrupted a prayer meeting on alleged charges of religious conversion, was leading the gang of attackers on October 23.
To Masih, Atwal seemed to be the prime target of the attack because Gill had an altercation with him a few months ago.
Christians and churches in Punjab were attacked in previous occasions, but the state government had not taken serious steps to contain them, Manish said.
Reports from Persecution Relief, an organisation dedicated to the defence of discriminated Christians in India, show an overwhelming increase in the number of attacks against Christians across the country.
It recorded 157 cases of persecution in the third quarter of the year. These cases include attacks on churches, false complaints, murders, social boycotts, physical attacks targeting even women, illegal arrests and detention of Christians. Ten Christians were killed until the end of September this year.
There were 2,224 incidents of persecution against Christians from January 2016 to September 2020, of which 450 incidents were from 2020 alone.
According to Shibu Thomas, the founder of Persecution Relief, these findings are based on those who make direct calls to our toll-free numbers and others who inform the forum. To him, these recorded incidents were "only the tip of an iceberg."
Christians do not report many incidents "for fear of retribution from the attackers and also of police and other government officials, who are hand in glove with the attackers, mostly right-wing Hindu activists," Thomas said.
Attacks against Christians and their worship places are reported in greater numbers. Many Christians believe support from the BJP-led government is what is triggering radical Hindus to fearlessly carry out anti-Christian activities in the country.