03/20/2023 India (International Christian Concern) – At least 19 Christians were arrested in 7 different locations in the North Indian state of Uttar Pradesh on 19th March 2023. All of them were accused of alleged forced conversions. Out of 19 Christians who were arrested, 9 were jailed under different IPC sections, including the Uttar Pradesh state’s anti-conversion law.
In one such incident, eight people were taken into custody after a mob attack on the Sunday worship in a place called Hariharnath, in Kushinagar district. According to sources, at around 9 in the morning a mob of around 50 Hindu nationalists arrived at a Church where nearly 100 people were worshiping. The mob started to attack the worshipers and the Pastor. The leaders of the mob forced themselves into the Church, grabbed the Pastor by the collar, and dragged him outside of the Church. While this attack was going on, the Church members called the police. the police soon arrived yet did nothing while the Christians continued to be harassed.
Later, the seven members of the Pastor’s family and one other Church member were taken to the police station. After keeping them in the custody all day the four women were released. The four men were sent to jail and were charged with forced conversion.
Similar incidents took place across the state in Chunar Mirjapur district, Unau Kanpur district, Mathura, Gorakhpur, Mirut, and Kaptanganj Kushingar district
One of the Christians, who was attending the Sunday worship in Hariharnath told sources, “There was nothing new we did this Sunday. We have been meeting here for several years peacefully. What happened today creates lot of disturbance in the community and in the families of those sent to jail. This is the work of some body with motive to divide and sow disharmony in the society.”
Uttar Pradesh is the most populous state in India and one of the 11 states to implement anti-conversion laws. Ever since the laws were implemented, attacks on Christians have skyrocketed with several hundred jailed under the false charges of forcible conversions.