By Shuriah Niazi
NEW DELHI (AA) - Three Christians were attacked by a mob in northeastern India on suspicion of slaughtering a cow, police said on Monday.
Local residents of Khunti district of Jharkhand State saw Kanantus Barla, Fagu Kaccap and Philip Horo with the carcass of a cow near a river at Jaltanga Village on Sunday, physically assaulting them, local media cited police officials as saying on Monday.
According to news agency Press Trust of India, while Barla died on the way to the hospital, Kacchap and Horo are under treatment at the Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences in Ranchi.
The local Christian community voiced concern over the lynching and called on the government to ensure their safety.
Father Anand Muttungal, convener of National Christians Federation, demanded immediate action against the people involved in the incident.
"The government must ensure security and safety for the community, as many incidents have taken place in Jharkhand," said Muttungal.
"Those responsible should also be arrested immediately," he added.
No arrests have been made so far, with local police saying the matter was "under investigation," according to New Delhi-based daily Indian Express.
According to a recent report from the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) - India, a total of 159 cases of mob violence against Christians were recorded in the first eight months of 2019.
Since the beginning of this year, 218 incidents of violence against Christians have been reported over the toll-free helpline number of the United Christian Forum (UCF), said Indian online news magazine Caravan Daily, citing the ADF report.
"Out of 218 incidents of violence against Christians, 159 incidents are in the form of intimidation and threats by a vigilante mob," said the report.
It said that mob violence and attacks on weaker groups (Dalits) of Hindus and religious minorities, including Muslims and Christians, had "become commonplace" since 2014.
India's small Christian community, 2.3% of the 1.3 billion population, which seems to be targeted on issues of conversion, is also collateral victim of hate crimes against the much larger Muslim community, roughly 15% of the population, added the report.