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Half-built church vandalized in northern India

A church that was under construction has been vandalized in a Hindu-majority village in India's northern state Haryana. Villagers are suspected of damaging the building and placing the idol of a Hindu god on the site.

Villagers are alleged to have ransacked a half-built Believer's Church in Kaimri, a village in India's northern state, Haryana on Sunday. Local police officer Ramesh Chand told reporters that some members of the mob placed an idol of a Hindu god at the site.

Locals told Indian media that the church pastor, Suresh Chand, had bought the piece of land saying he wanted to build a house. However, after a couple of weeks, they noticed a spire on the construction and realized Chand was building a church. Local residents claimed they tried to talk the pastor out of building it last February at a village council meeting.

The angry villagers then decided to attack the pastor's structure, because he did not stop construction. They replaced a cross with the idol of the Hindu god Hanuman and claimed their right to the Christian pastor's land.

Police said they had named 14 suspects on charges of criminal intimidation and damaging a place of worship, but they hadn't arrested anyone so far.

India is officially a secular country, but

attacks on churches have been on the rise

in the past year after right wing leader Narendra Modi took over as India's prime minister.

mg/rc (dpa, pti)

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