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ICC Note:

Seven Christian pastors in India have been arrested and sent to jail after being accused of forced conversions earlier this week. The arrests happened in India’s Uttar Pradesh state. Christian leaders are often falsely accused of forced conversions as Hindu radicals use these arrests and following legal procedures as a means to harass ministries. The radicals also use these false accusations as license to assault the individuals they have accused. Unfortunately, police in India are often willing to go along with these false accusations, even if forceful conversions are not considered a crime by that state’s penal code. 

12/10/2017 India (Christian Daily) – Seven Christian pastors in India were arrested this week, charged with alleged ‘forced conversions’ in the district of Mathura, Uttar Pradesh in Northern India.

Following their arrests, the pastors were refused bail on Wednesday and now remain in custody, according to the British Pakistani Christian Association (BPCA).

Villagers in the district of Irauli Gurjar called local police to protest the pastors’ sharing of ‘evil Bibles’ and using blasphemous language about the Hindu religion, according to The Times of India. They alleged the pastors used violence to force ‘Scheduled Caste’ or Dalit locals to convert to Christianity.

The pastors were charged under section 295A of the Indian Penal Code, which outlaws ‘deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings’.

Relatives of one of the arrested, Pastor Stanley Jacob, denied the accusations made against the men. A couple who had recently converted to Christianity invited the missionary pastors to their house for a prayer meeting on Monday, Jacob’s relatives said. The pastors had shared the gospel at the gathering and gave out Bibles to some locals who had been invited there.

The meeting was then interrupted by villagers who allegedly began to direct abuse at the pastors. The call to police was made by Lal Singh, the uncle of the converted couple – Pradeep Singh and his wife Mamta. Lal Singh was not at the meeting, but said he was told of the ‘forced conversions’ by others there.

The lead officer of the British Asian Christian Association, Pastor Naresh, expressed his ‘frustration’ and ‘anger’ regarding the pastors’ arrest, ‘based on the lies of local people’ and ‘extremists’.

He added: ‘Being a pastor in India is becoming a nightmare role, persecution here is reaching the levels that were present at the time of Paul.

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