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ICC Note: Four Christians have been charged with hurting religious sentiments for handing out Christian tracts during an Easter procession they had received permission for from local police. All four of the Christians have been released on bail, but still face criminal charges. Hindu radicals often use false accusations of forced conversions or hurting religious sentiments to justify attacks on Christians.

04/06/2018 India (Christian Today) – Four Indian Christians have been charged with ‘hurting religious sentiments’ for handing out Christian tracts during an Easter procession.

Rayapuri Jyothi, 38, Meena Kumari, 52, Mahima Kumari, 35 and Bagadam Sudhakar, 45, were arrested in Hyderabad, the state capital of the southern Telangana state, on Easter Sunday, according to World Watch Monitor (WWM). They were released on bail on Tuesday.

The arrest follows a complaint by a group affiliated with the nationalist RSS movement. The leader of the Hindu Jana Shakti group, Jakkula Vinay Kumar, said the 20 to 25-strong procession had entered a slum and attempted to convert its residents.

However, the lawyer for the Christians, Sudheer Kumar, told WWM the Christians had already reported being harassed by Hindu Jana Shakti.

In a video circulated on social media one church member who was present said: ‘With permission from the police, we [the church] took out a peaceful procession, singing hymns, distributing tracts around our area.

‘When we were about to wind up and return back to the church premises, in the last moment, they [Hindu Jana Shakti members] attacked four Christians, and we went running back to their rescue.

‘[The men] physically attacked the Christian youth and misbehaved with the women, and even tried to apply vermillion [a powder worn by married Hindu women applied by their husbands] to the pastor’s wife.’

She added that when she told the men they had obtained permission from the police, they grabbed her hand and ripped the bangles from it, shouting at her: ‘Do you know the law?’ She said they then tore up the letter of permission she showed them, and started beating up some of the young Christian men in the group.

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