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6/18/2024 India (International Christian Concern) — A law firm in the state of Madhya Pradesh last week secured the release of 11 Christians who had been detained since 2022 under anti-conversion laws. 

In a news release, the law firm, based in Indore and primarily focused on serving Christians pro-bono, said it fought for the Christians’ release for two months.  

The press release stated that one pastor from Arunachal Pradesh, another Northern state, and two local pastors from Khargoan in Madhya Pradesh were detained under anti-conversion laws based on a video that went viral video on social media in 2022. The Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which governs the federal government, also governs Madhya Pradesh. 

Some who opposed the Christians put pressure on authorities through a member of Parliament in the Lok Sabha, the highest seat of the government, to ensure that the pastors were detained.  

In another case, authorities brought false charges against a jungle bandit-turned-Christian and six other believers who were associated with him. When the lower court decided against the seven Christians, the law firm moved to get them released and their records cleared.  

In the third case, radical Hindus targeted a high-caste Hindu who had converted to Christianity and got him arrested. When the law firm challenged his detention, the district superintendent of police slapped another case against the man under a local goonda act, which targets criminals known for violence, public drunkenness, sexual crimes, and habitual counterfeiting or smuggling. 

Cases similar to those of these 11 Christians are pending throughout India. According to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), 12 of India’s 28 states have anti-conversion laws as of February 2023. In addition to Madhya Pradesh, these states include Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Odisha, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, and Uttar Pradesh. The enforcement of these laws varies from state to state. 

*The names of those released have been omitted for their protection

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