05/20/2020 India (International Christian Concern) – According to Morning Star News, eight Christians were arrested in late April after being falsely accused of holding a worship service in violation of India’s COVID-19 restrictions. However, these Christians were in fact gathered at the church to prepare aid packets for poor people affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
On April 25, Pastor Ramesh Kumar, age 32, and seven other Christians gathered at their church in Kakrahia village, located in India’s Uttar Pradesh state, to prepare aid packets for nomadic people affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Morning Star News reports that police were called to the church to arrest the Christians after they were falsely accused of holding a worship gathering.
According to Pastor Kumar, the police did not let them speak to the head of Kakrahia village who was informed of the small gathering and its purpose of preparing aid. According to Morning Star News, the Christians were answering a call to action by India’s Prime Minister who asked people to help feel the poor during the COVID-19 lockdown.
“Before they detained us, the policemen used vulgar language and beat me, Rajendra, and Rakesh with clubs,” Pastor Kumar told Morning Star News. “Rakesh sustained an injury on his hand and developed swelling because of the beating.”
The Christians were then taken to Sarai Akil police station where they were interrogated. According to Morning Star News, police asked the Christians about foreign funding they claimed was being used to forcefully convert Hindus to Christianity. The police went on to threaten the Christians with more beatings if they did not cooperate.
Police continued to interrogate the eight Christians until the head of the Kakrahia village, named Kallu, arrived and confirmed the Christians were preparing aid packets.
“I told the station-in-charge that Ramesh and the others were not socializing but were there to pack relief packets to distribute to the nomadic community,” Kallu told Morning Star News. Police eventually released the eight Christians after Kallu signed a statement attesting to the Christians’ innocence.
According to Morning Star News, false information about the arrest was publicized by a local newspaper. The report falsely claimed that the Christians were continuing to gather for worship in violation of the lockdown restrictions. The report went on to claim that police only apprehended eight men when they searched the church and hundreds of others escaped.
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