NEW DELHI (Christian Examiner) — A Catholic church was vandalized in west New Delhi, India, Wednesday, the fourth such incident that has occurred across the city in the past two months, according to reports. Christian advocates say that the attacks are being coordinated by Hindu miscreants who want a Hindu-only India.
The two vandals were caught on camera at 4:18 a.m. local time smashing the windows of Our Lady of Graces Church and pushing over a statue of Mary. The damage done, they fled. Church staff came across the destruction two hours later.
"The men did not come here with the intention to rob the church, but to damage the property. We suspect a conspiracy," assistant parish priest Father Balraj Lourduswamy told The Times of India.
The men were identified by local police as petty criminals based on the footage from the incident, and a case of defiling a place of worship has been lodged against them. They also have provided extra security for the church.
This represents a string of crimes against churches in New Delhi. Stones were thrown at one church, while another had its Nativity scene torched. The most incident occurred Dec. 1, when St. Sebastian's church in East Delhi was burned to the ground. Kerosene was found on the scene, and police confirmed that the fire was a result of intentional arson.
"A clear pattern of orchestrated attacks is emerging as more and more churches are targeted, vandalized and set on fire," said Archbishop Anil JT Couto of New Delhi.
Attacks on churches have increased ever since Indian Prime Minister Narender Modi came into power last May, says Father Savarimuthu Shankar, a spokesman for the Delhi archodiocese. He and other Catholic leaders claim that the attacks are an attempt to polarize voters before state elections next month.
Modi has "refused to make a statement about attacks on Christians," Shankar told UCA News, saying the incidents were "media hype" to counter his "development agenda."
Modi's party, the Bharatiya Janat Party, has denounced the vandalism, but called accusations of Hindu groups unfair.