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ICC Note: A nine-year-old Christian girl was recently gang-raped and murdered in India’s Punjab state. Local Christians claim anti-Christian sentiment had been growing in the area since a number of families had recently converted to Christianity. Attacks on India’s Christians and their places of worship have increased in both number and intensity in recent years. Many attribute this to the wide berth afforded India’s Hindu radicals by the ruling BJP-led government.

08/08/2018 India (World Watch Monitor) – A nine-year-old girl from an Indian family that had recently converted to Christianity was gang-raped and murdered on Sunday, 5 August, in Punjab state.

Anjali Masih was playing with her friends in the city of Gurdaspur, near the Pakistan border, when a group of men lured her away by showing her a guava.

She was then gang-raped and strangled with a telephone wire.

Local Christians told World Watch Monitor that there has been a rise in anti-Christian feeling in the area, which is predominantly Hindu and Sikh, since a number of families converted to Christianity.

One Christian, who did not wish to be named, suggested the brutal attack could have been carried out by people wanting to discourage others from changing religions.

India has seen a wave of anti-Christian violence in recent years, with a notable increase since Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist BJP came to power in 2014.

However, Punjab state has been largely spared such violence. After the murder of a pastor in the Punjab city of Ludhiana last year, one local Christian told World Watch Monitor: “The state of Punjab is very safe in India for Christians. There are Sikhs living here – they are also a religious minority in India. We are also a minority, but never before have we had any threats. But unfortunately this has happened and we are all shocked about how this is possible. Nobody knows how this can happen.”

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