Church leaders have called for increased protection for religious minorities in India after Christians were targeted in a spate of at least ten attacks in the days leading up to a visit by American President Donald Trump.

The two-day presidential visit began on February 24 amid escalating violence in north-east Delhi, with at least 22 people killed and more than 200 injured in renewed rioting over controversial new citizenship legislation.

The Religious Liberty Commission of the Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI) registered 10 incidents of hate crime and violence against Christians, including mob attacks, police intimidation and the disruption of worship services, between 20 and 23 February.

Vijayesh Lal, national director of the Religious Liberty Commission, said violent incidents had become a “regular phenomenon for Christians in many parts of India” on weekends, especially on Sundays. The latest attacks happened on the weekend before President Trump’s visit when he was due to discuss religious freedom in India with Prime Minister Modi.

Five of the incidents took place in Uttar Pradesh. Two incidents took place in Tamil Nadu, and one incident each was reported from Telangana, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh states.

Barnabas Fund