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ICC Note:

False accusations of forced conversions in India are commonly used to frame Christian pastors of crimes they didn’t commit. Often, Hindu radicals use these false accusations as licenses to beat Christians and harass their ministries. Across India, attacks on Christians and their places of worship have risen dramatically. In just the first six months of 2017, Christians in India had already endured over 410 attacks on their community. With all the attacks over the Christmas holiday, it is almost certain the second half of 2017 was as bad as the first.

12/28/2017 India (Morning Star News) – After being framed on false charges earlier this year, two Christians in eastern India recently spent a month in jail, where inmates beat them after discovering they were accused of defiling Hinduism, sources said.

Months after two Hindu extremists in Bihar state tried – and failed – to trap pastor Ajay Kumar and a Bible college student into actions that would serve as the basis for fraudulent conversion accusations, charges are still pending against the two Christians.

On March 17, the 32-year-old pastor was visiting a church member’s house in Begu Sarai District, where he leads his Assemblies of God church, when he received a call from an anonymous person at around 11 a.m.

“The caller told me that he really wanted to know about Christ and asked us to meet him at Har Har Mahadev Chowk,” Pastor Kumar told Morning Star News.

He and a 21-year-old student of a Bible college in Kerala state, identified only as Asharya, who was also visiting Begu Sarai, accompanied him to meet the unknown caller.

“After we waited for about 15 minutes at the chowk, two men in their 20s came on a two-wheeler, and one of them introduced himself as Neeraj Kumar,” Kumar said. “After a brief introduction, they started saying a Christian girl and Hindu boy back in their village are in love, and they need our help.”

The two men on a motorcycle then began to bombard them with questions.

“They asked me, ‘How much would it cost to convert and marry in Christianity? Tell us your price. We are ready to pay whatever it costs. Please help us,’” Pastor Kumar told Morning Star News. “I refused. Asharya and I understood it’s a trap.”

The Christians told them that if they wanted know about Christ, then they would share the gospel, but that they don’t convert anyone. The pastor told them that they don’t do marriages and didn’t want to be involved in the matter.

“I clarified that we can’t be of any help, and that is when they became aggressive and started slapping us,” Pastor Kumar said. “Then they dragged us both by the collar to the middle of the road and started shouting, ‘Look at these people. They do conversions. These are the people who do conversions,’ and because of his shouting a crowd, of over 50 people surrounded us.”

Neeraj Kumar also called media to the area, he said.

“It was all pre-planned. The media started clicking our photos,” Pastor Kumar said. “Police arrived on the spot, but Neeraj Kumar did not stop shouting. He told the police, ‘These people carry out conversions, arrest them.’”

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For interviews with William Stark, ICC’s Regional Manager, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: [email protected].