By Matters India Reporter
Ghazipur, April 23, 2023: A court in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh has remanded six Protestant Christians, including two pastors, in judicial custody for allegedly violating a state law that restrains religious conversion.
Among the remanded is a 1.5-year-old girl whose parents are in judicial custody now.
“It is the most unfortunate that a little girl was forced to go to prison,” bemoaned a pastor while seeking prayers for those put behind the bars.
The accused five hail from Kasimabad town in Ghazipur district. The police arrested them on April 23 during a routine Sunday prayer service after a group of rightwing activists alleged the prayer meeting was for religious conversion.
Bupendra Singh, the complainant, who claimed to be incharge of Akhil Bharatiya Kshetriya Mahasabha, said the accused allegedly offered 50,000 rupees to each villager who attended the prayer gathering if they converted to Christianity.
The accused allegedly promised employment and miraculous healing of the sick besides making objectionable comments against those following Hinduism.
Police charged them with relevant provisions of the state’s stringent anti-conversion law.
“It is totally a false case as our people were attending a routine Sunday prayer service and there was no religious conversion as was alleged,” said Pastor Dinanath Jaiswal, who has helped the beleaguered Christian since their detention.
“It seems to be a planned operation to target the Christian prayer service,” Pastor Jaiswal, a social worker, told Matters India on April 24.
He expressed the hope that the five would be released soon.
Uttar Pradesh, the most populous state in India, recorded 149 incidents of persecution against Christians in 2022, according to the latest report of the ecumenical United Christian Forum.
The state topped the list of states where Christians witnessed violent attacks.
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