The general secretary of a Christian pastors’ organization in India’s Uttar Pradesh urged authorities to release some 30 Christian pastors jailed on alleged false religious conversion cases.
Uttar Pradesh has 200 million residents, making it India’s most populous city. It has a Christian community comprising 0.18% of the total population.
According to a report by UCA News, Pastors’ Association, Uttar Pradesh General Secretary Pastor Jitendra Singh claimed that the incarcerated pastors were all falsely charged with religious conversions.
India’s Anti-conversion Law
The report bared that the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) passed anti-conversion legislation in February 2021. The said law made it a criminal act to entice people to convert to another religion.
“We want justice for the pastors who have been victims of persecution by Hindu nationalists,” UCA News quoted Pastor Singh saying on Nov. 7.
Singh is also the Regional Pastor of the New India Church of God, aside from being the General Secretary of the Pastors’ Association, Uttar Pradesh.
The Christian Pastors’ Association appealed to Kanpur’s police commissioner, Bhagirath P. Jogdand.
The group asked the commissioner to intervene on behalf of the jailed Christian preachers. Moreover, they urged the police chief to protect the pastors from any forms of persecution and harassment while in jail.
The group likewise asked Jogdand to safeguard the Christian community and their houses of worship. Accordingly, Commissioner Jogdand told the group that he would study their concerns.
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Christian Persecutions in India
The news outlet noted the various acts of persecution against Christians in India.
In their statement, the Christian pastors mentioned how die-hard nationalist groups and individuals disturb the prayer meetings of Christians. Christian churches also experience break-ins, thefts, and destruction of copies of the Bible.
Additionally, Christian nuns and priests reportedly get attacked by anti-Christian groups. The attackers allegedly accuse the Christian religious of violating the country’s anti-conversion law.
Bro. Joy Mathew told UCA News that the rise in violence targeting Christians began with the anti-conversion law’s enactment.
“Many Christian leaders were sent to jail, but so far no one has been convicted as the cases do not stand legal scrutiny in the court. We proclaim the Word of God strictly within the purview of the constitutional safeguards and the state’s laws but those attacking us are violating the legal and constitutional mandate. They must be punished,” Brother Mathew explained.
Based on available data from the United Christian Forum, a Christian human rights organization, the number of targeted violence against Christians went up from 279 in 2020 to 486 in 2021.
Consequently, the country’s Supreme Court ordered the federal government on Sept. 1 to check the integrity of the reports on violence against Christians.
The Supreme Court mandated Uttar Pradesh and seven other Indian states to come up with a report detailing their actions to address the complaints of anti-Christian violence.
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