Three Christians were attacked in the Indian state of Maharashtra for distributing religious tracts and inviting people to Sunday prayers, The Times of India reports.

Pastor Prashant Bhatnagar and two church members Sachin Shenge and his wife Manisha were confronted by members of a fundamentalist group in Kharghar city on September 16, and were verbally and physically abused.

According to another report, Pastor Bhatnagar, who is also a child psychologist, was slapped and beaten up by the Hindu activists from Sri Ram Pratishtan group. When Shenge and his wife tried to intervene, the fundamentalists assaulted them too.

The pastor was allegedly abducted in a car and taken to a remote place where he was beaten repeatedly. A revolver was pointed at him and he was told that they would set him on fire if he continued to distribute the tracts.

After threatening him, the assailants dropped him at a residential locality from where he was taken to a hospital.

Four men were booked for perpetrating malicious acts to offend religious feelings, and rioting at Kharghar Police station.

Abraham Mathai, former vice-chairman of Maharashtra Minorities Commission reported a 24-hour delay in registering FIR at the police station.

"This is a grave criminal act to assault a peaceful group so badly and to threaten them with a gun. The police must book and arrest all the culprits in this case," said Mathai.

In a separate incident in the state of Uttar Pradesh on September 17, a group of vandals threw homemade bombs and stones on a church in Lakhimpur Kheri district during the night. The church was vacant at the time, so no injuries were reported from the attack.

Hundreds of miles away from Lakhimpur in an animist village in central India, Christians were banned from collecting firewood and grazing their animals on nearby pastures unless they convert back to the faith of the tribe. Christians have been frequently boycotted socially and economically by Hindu communities in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh to compel them to reconvert to Hinduism.

A recent report by Evangelical Fellowship of India showed that cases of violence against Christians have increased in 2016, and the number of recorded violent incidents (134) are already close to the total number of attacks registered in 2014 (147) and 2015 (177).

According to EFI, the number of recorded attacks are just a "fraction of the violence on the ground" as they only included "carefully corroborated" crimes.