Indian Christians experienced almost as many attacks in the first half of the 2017 as they did in the entire year of 2016.
That's according to a new report from the persecution watchdog organization Open Doors. According to the report, there were 410 reported incidents targeting Indian Christians in the first six months of this year. Last year, there were 441 reported incidents total.
Eighty-four of those incidents were violent assaults. Of those 84 violent attacks, 32 would have been deadly if timely medical-aid had not been provided.
One partner told Open Doors the Indian government fails to punish attackers, which emboldens them to target Christians even more.
"When Christians are beaten up by extremists, they are injured mostly on their heads or vital body parts. There was one incident earlier this year when the victim was attacked by a sword to his head. He was bleeding profusely and was critically injured… Attackers do not care if the person dies. They know they will not be punished because the Government (and hence the judiciary) will take their side. In most cases attackers go unpunished," the partner said.
While some Christians may not be physically attacked, they pay a heavy societal toll for following Christ.
According to the report, many Christians become social outcasts or are forced to leave their homes for fear of their safety.
The biggest perpetrators of this persecution are Hindu extremists.
While the Indian government speaks of religious freedom and secularism, the government is run by a Hindu nationalist party called RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh).
Leaders are embracing Hinduism more and becoming less tolerant of other religions, especially Christians.
One Christian leader said he was once a Hindu nationalist and persecuted Christians before he made the decision to follow Christ.
"Before I converted to Christianity, I used to be a staunch Hindu. I also joined RSS at that time and started working with them. The party upholds Hindutva ideology and believes that if Christians in India aren't controlled, they would convert all the Hindus in the country and Hindutva would lose its identity," he told Oepn Doors. "Hence RSS wants to do their best to stop Christians from preaching about their faith. They would go to any extremes for that. I myself persecuted many Christians until I came to the Christian faith and realized what I had been doing."
India's Christians are fighting back by lobbying their government officials.
The National Council of Churches in India (NCCI), which represents 14 million Protestant and Orthodox Christians, recently wrote an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in hopes he would condemn the persecution.
No such actions have been taken by the Indian government since that letter was written.