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ICC Note:

Police in India’s Uttar Pradesh state have reportedly arrested 6 Christians for holding a worship service. The police later described the worship service they raided as an “unlawful assembly” despite the fact that Indian courts have held that Christians have the right to hold worship services inside their homes. These 6 Christians were later released, but the harassment they received is becoming more normal in India. Attacks on Christians and their places of worship continue to increase with accusations of forced conversions used as an excuse to raid, arrest, and even beat Christians merely practicing their faith. 

07/26/2017 India (Gospel Herald) – Berating and slapping a pastor for reading the Bible instead of Hindu texts, police in Uttar Pradesh state, India last month detained six Christians under “unlawful assembly” laws for worshiping together, sources said.

After traveling from Etah village to a church in nearby Pujaripurvah, the six Christians were detained for nine days before they were granted bail by Bahriach District’s Second Class Judicial Magistrate Court on July 5.

Police on June 25 arrived at the worship service in Pujaripurvah village and confiscated Bibles, hymn books and devotionals. Station House Officer (SHO) Aravind Kumar of Nanpara demanded that Pastor Asha Ram Sahni hand over literature he suspected was used to convert people, the church leader said.

When Pastor Sahni showed him copies of the New Testament and gospel tracts, Kumar said, “Not this ‘thing,’ give us the material with which you do conversions.”

Kumar further badgered him, saying, “You are paid eight to 10 lakhs [US$12,420 to US$15,520] for converting people,” the pastor said.

“I told the officer, ‘Sir, if I’m paid such hefty amounts, why would I live in a mud house? I follow Jesus Christ with all my heart, I serve Christ, I share the gospel, but I never forcefully converted anyone. I don’t have any other books,'” he said.

The prior Sunday, relatives of village President Raj Kumar took photographs of Bibles and gospel tracts and complained to police about the church, Pastor Sahni told Morning Star News. The police harassment began the following Sunday, with SHO Kumar eventually ordering him to write down the names of everyone who attended worship, he said. On June 27, the officer ordered the 38-year-old pastor and five others to the police station, where they were taken into custody.