Seven men accused of raping an elderly nun in India last month have appeared in court to face the charges against them. 

Police presented the suspects, including three Bangladeshi nationals, before the court in the northern town of Ludhiana on Friday.

Last month, a dozen of suspects had entered the Convent of Jesus and Mary and gang-raped a 72-year-old woman in Nadia town of eastern state of West Bengal.

The incident led to national and international outrage. 

On Tuesday, police in Punjab state held Bangladeshi nationals in connection with the attack that left the victim needing surgery. 

However, the accused refuted the allegations, claiming that they were not present at the scene of crime.

One of the accused, Jinnah Sheikh, said he was from Bangladesh and denied his involvement in the rape.

"No. I have not done it. I have been living in Delhi since childhood," said Sheikh adding, "I came to Ludhiana from Delhi."

The incident, along with a spate of attacks on churches, has unnerved India's Christian community who feel that Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government is not doing enough to protect the minorities in the Hindu majority country.

Christians had held vigils across the country to protest against the rape and the church attack.

The assault also marked a convergence of two social currents in contemporary India, violence against women and attacks against minority religions.

About a fifth of India's 1.27 billion people identify themselves as belonging to faiths other than Hinduism. Muslims make up the largest minority, about 14 percent of the population, while Christians comprise about 2.5 percent.

A rape is reported on average every 21 minutes in India, and acid attacks, domestic violence and molestation against women are common.

Source: Reuters