Uttar Pradesh, pastor arrested on false charges: 'I witnessed the Gospel in prison '

The Rev. Dharmendra Singh spent three days in prison, where he was able to meet and console 1,300 inmates. He was reported for forced conversions by a loyalist, who admitted he had received pressure from radical Hindu groups to present false accusations.

Lucknow (AsiaNews / AsiaNews) - A Christian pastor was arrested by police in Uttar Pradesh after being reported for "forced conversions".

Later, however, the man who had filed a complaint against him admitted that he had been forced to accuse the pastor of certain groups of Hindu extremists.

After his release the Reverend declared that his detention "was a blessing", because in prison "I could meet 1,300 inmates, among whom several arrested for murder, and among them I was able to witness the Gospel" .

The story of the pastor is told by the Protestant Christian newspaper Morning Star News. The Rev. Dharmendra Singh (photo 2), 40, is originally from Delhi and five years ago moved with his family to Nepal, where he leads the Nepalganj church, on the border with India, in which he also opened a center for tailoring.

He also administers prayers in Prem Sewa Clinic, the Rupaidiha village hospital in the district of Bahraich (Uttar Pradesh), where he was arrested. In this village the pastor also conducts regular visits to follow a newly formed Christian community. Ramesh Gautam, belongs to this community.  He was the man who accused the pastor of having been converted "through enticement".

The Rev. Singh was arrested on January 28th. Police had started an investigation against him for contempt of religious sentiment and promotion of enmity. Later, the faithful revealed that he had received pressure from members of the ultra-nationalist group Vishwa Hindu Parishad and its youth wing Bajrang Dal, who asked him to file a false complaint. The pastor was then released on bail on 31 January.

The Rev. Singh has no grudge against Gautam. " “He witnessed that his faith is his own choice and nobody has forced him or his family to believe in Jesus,” Pastor Singh said. In fact  the man converted about six months ago, after the healing of his wife which he attributes to the prayers of the Reverend. The village did not welcome his conversion and started to discriminate against him.

The pastor sends a message of hope, despite the climate of insecurity in which many Christian communities persecuted in India live.

"The message of Christ was proclaimed with power amongst the prisoners, and I am delighted that the name of Christ was heard by all 1,300 prisoners,” Pastor Singh said. “I saw that their spirits were crushed, and they had deep loneliness in them.” Some of the prisoners were convicted murderers and he prayed with and embraced many of them, feeling an anointing and the power of God, he said. “I am delighted to have gone to the prison and been used by God,” he said. “Now that I have seen them and have been there, I can pray for them with much conviction and burden”.

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