09/13/2011, 00.00
INDIA

Madhya Pradesh: Pentecostal pastors and 11 Hindus who wanted baptism arrested

by Nirmala Carvalho
Five activists of the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) and the police tried to convince the faithful to file a false complaint against the pastor, on charges of forced conversions. The 11 rejected. GCIC: " Madhya Pradesh is a rogue state with the Christian community."
Mumbai (AsiaNews) - Insulted, beaten and charged with false accusations of forced conversions of five Hindu activists by the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh). This is what happened yesterday in Madhya Pradesh to four Pentecostal pastors, and the wife of one of the11 faithful. After a night in jail, they were released on bail today. It is the latest episode of aggression by Hindu nationalists against Pentecostal pastors. But Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) points out: "The situation is alarming for all Christians, Madhya Pradesh is a rogue state that does not guarantee any rights of the Constitution in this community."

Pastors Ramesh, Balu and Ashok were driving to a prayer meeting attended by 20 other people. Of these, 11 were to have received the baptism ritual according to Pentecostal ritual. Suddenly, the RSS activists armed with sticks broke into the house, along with three local police officers. The pastors tried to explain what was happening, but the activists began to attack them accusing them of practicing forced conversions. After arresting the men and Sumantra, the wife of the rev. Ramesh, the police questioned the 11 baptized. Along with the Hindu group, the police tried to coerce the faithful to file false charges against Pastor Ramesh on charges of forced conversions. The group refused, saying they wanted to be baptized as believers in Christ.

"The anti-conversion law of 1968 - says Sajan George - serves as a pretext to intimidate Christians. A similar case occurred last August 31 in Khargone district, where the pastor Veersingh Kalesh received threats while he officiated a service of prayer. "

But the Hindu persecution in Madhya Pradesh against Christians also has other forms, as the president of the GCIC reports: "The state government (led by the BJP - Bharatiya Janata Party, the Hindu nationalist party, ed) abuse federal laws to harass the Christian schools, putting them under pressure, interfering with their management "

In March, the government has attempted to carry out a survey on the Christian population in Madhya Pradesh: number of schools, churches and priests, financial situation, foreign income and any political patronage, details of Christians with a criminal record. Following protests, the survey was blocked.
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