India: Pastor and his wife arrested/imprisoned under Uttar Pradesh anti-conversion laws
by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent
(Worthy News) – A pastor and his wife in India’s Uttar Pradesh state have been criminally charged and imprisoned under harsh local anti-conversion laws for allegedly luring Hindus into becoming Christians, Scroll reports. Ruled by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party since 2014, India ranks 11th on the US Open Doors World Watch List 2023 of the top 50 countries where Christians are persecuted.
Pastor Santosh John and his wife Jiji from Ghaziabad were arrested on February 26 after a mob of 40-50 Hindu nationalists interrupted a worship service they were holding and accused them of targeting vulnerable poor people into becoming Christians, Scroll reports.
After calling the police, one of the Hindus, Ghaziabad resident Praveen Naagar, filed an official complaint against the pastor and his wife under Uttar Pradesh’s Prohibition of Unlawful Religious Conversion Ordinance, 2020, Scroll said. According to Naagar, the pastors were “doing religious conversion work in an organized way by luring some poor and helpless people of the colony and trying to persuade them to change their religion.”
Pastor Santosh and Jiji were arrested and taken for questioning before being brought before a magistrate who denied them bail, Scroll said. They vigorously denied the charge against them and only held a worship service when the Hindus arrived. They will renew their bail application before a court of sessions.
In a website statement about the situation for Christians in India, the US Open Doors Christian advocacy group explains: “Increasing numbers of states are implementing anti-conversion laws, supposedly to stop Hindus being forcibly converted to other religions, but in reality, they are often used as an excuse to harass and intimidate Christians who are just doing things like distributing aid or having a private church meeting.”
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