By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
Leaders of the Jhabua district of India’s state
Madhya Pradesh followed orders by the Hindu hardline group Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), Christians said.
The VHP activists called for a ban on any meetings held “for conversions and activities of this type,” according to sources familiar with the situation.
The Jhabua sub-divisional magistrate Anil Bhana said any events held for “mass conversion” are now barred, Worthy News learned.
However, Church leaders have complained that the order effectively prevents them from holding services at all. Advocacy group Barnabas Fund agreed.
Christians said that fear any Christian meeting may now be considered by extremists an attempt to gain converts in India, a mainly Hindu nation unlawfully.
“For the past one month, many have canceled Sunday prayer meetings” due to “false charges of conversion,” said a Madhya Pradesh church minister in remarks obtained by Worthy News.
District authorities “were asking church ministers and other Christian workers to appear before officials and explain their activities,” a local source said.
The source, quoted by Christian charity Barnabas Fund, described these orders as “new pressure tactics applied through government mechanisms.”
“It is indeed tough on the believers and church leaders there,” he said. “May the Lord give them His grace and use His power to transform the situation.”
Earlier in November, pastors in Madhya Pradesh reported that they were forced to document the names of Christians attending church services. They said they followed these orders to protect themselves “against false allegations of illegal religious conversions.”
It comes amid a Hindu crackdown on perceived “forced conversions” in several states of India, which rights activists say impact minority Christians and other non-Hindu groups.
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