09/03/2014, 00.00
INDIA

India, false accusations of forced conversions used to intimidate Christian minority

Nirmala Carvalho
This is the strategy adopted by ultra-nationalist Hindu groups in various parts of the country. The latest incident took place in Uttar Pradesh, where 10 Protestant pastors were interrogated and detained by the police. Militants of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) paramilitary group incite villagers against Christian religious.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - Accusations of forced conversions against the Christian minority with the sole purpose of creating communal distrust and suspicion. This is the strategy adopted in many parts of India by Hindu ultra-nationalist groups. The latest case occurred in Uttar Pradesh on August 31. The victims are 10 Protestant pastors, the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) reports to AsiaNews.

On August 31, police in Surajpur (District Gautam Buddh Nagar) detained and interrogated 10 Christian religious leaders from the village of Kulesra. Police confirm the pastors were taking part in a fasting ritual, which did not involve any religious conversion. However, having received many complaints from the local population, officers were forced to bring them in for questioning.

Once brought into the police station, a mob surrounded the building, preventing the police from releasing the 10 following their interrogation.

One of the pastors, Rev. Joseph Wilson, is head of Calvary Ashram Seva Sangh and has been in Uttar Pradesh since 1992 "In the many years - tells AsiaNews - I have never seen this kind of communal tension. We are not even being able to get close to Surajpur police station. Some members of our church, who went there, were beaten up". According to the pastor, activists of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS, a Hindu nationalist paramilitary group) incited the people of Kulesra, spreading false news of forced conversions.

The police deny  that there were major tensions. However Sajan George, president of the GCIC, confirmed the seriousness of the situation to AsiaNews: "These lumpen elements, surrounded the police station, where the vulnerable pastors were detained.  The bogey of ''conversion'' is being raised, with an aggressiveness against the innocent Christians".

 

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