India: Dozens arrested on conversion charges

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Nine Christians, including eight women, were recently jailed on false charges of conversion in Uttar Pradesh, India. 

The police arrested eight women and one man after a confrontation perpetrated by Hindu nationalists at a prayer gathering of Christians in Azamgarh district.  

Local sources said a mob of anti-Christian assailants stormed into the tent adjacent to the house and started to rip off the tent and break plastic chairs and other furniture used in the tent being used for the prayer gathering. The mob also threatened the Christians to renounce their faith in Jesus or face dire consequences, including losing their crops and farming land. The police arrived right as the mob finished destroying the tent. The police arrested several congregants on false charges of forcible conversions. 

In a separate event, when some women gathered at a house to pray corporately for the release of those jailed, Hindu nationalists informed the police about alleged conversions occurring there. Thus, the police rushed and took five other women to the police and sent them to jail.  

An eyewitness of the event stated that the “majority of the women who were jailed have small kids to take care in their respective homes, and their families are going through enormous trauma and stress due to this. Since these women previously fed their entire families, the families are now suffering as they wait upon their release.” 

Similarly, in another incident, eleven Christians were jailed in Bahraich district of Uttar Pradesh. A local pastor visited the eleven Christians who are in the jail awaiting release on bail. The wife of the pastor said, “the situation is very dangerous for Christians in the entire area where we are living now, since there is absolutely no freedom to gather and worship. If we want to worship, we need to be ready to go to jail; that is what happened to my husband and his congregation,” she said. 

According to a Christian leader who wished anonymity said, “there are at least 57 Christians reeling in the jail on conversion charges right now, some of these victims are young mothers, who needs to take care of their children and run their kitchen, it is sad that these innocent people are being falsely framed and were sent to jail.” 

Uttar Pradesh is the most populous state in India is one of the eleven states that enacted anti-conversion laws—the tool that radical Hindu nationalists use to harass and intimidate Christians, often leading to jailtime for Christians on false charges. In 400 incidents of violence in the last six months, 155 incidents of violence against Christians took place just in Uttar Pradesh.International Christian Concern