03/05/2018, 09.07
INDIA
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Uttarakhand pastor arrested and then released without charges

by Nirmala Carvalho

The Rev. Vipin Kumar was held in custody for eight hours. Far-right thugs interrupted a prayer gathering. The accusations of forced conversions "are used to intimidate India’s tiny Christian community".

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - A Pentecostal pastor was arrested yesterday in Uttarakhand, northern India, without charges being presented against him. Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), told AsiaNews: "The police arrested and kept the Rev. Vipin Kumar at the Kotwali Laksar police station. In the end the pastor was released without charges ".

The president of the GCIC explains that the rev. Kumar "was leading a prayer meeting in the village, when - without any provocation - a crowd of right-wing thugs interrupted the gathering. The officers arrested the pastor and locked him in the police station at 11 am. They questioned him and only released at 7.46 pm ".

The Christian leader complains that "while the right-wing henchmen interrupted the prayers and caused disturbances to public order, an innocent Christian was arrested. Thanking heaven, the pastor was not indicted. In any case, it is a paradox of justice that extreme right-wing extremists escape the hands of the law even if they terrorize religious minorities, and innocent people are detained and arrested ".

 Sajan George reports that "Pentecostal Christians are treated as second-class citizens". Then he expresses concern because "during the holy period of Lent [we are witnessing] a peak of [episodes] of interruptions of prayers, intimidation and arrests of the faithful".

The president of the Christian group recalls that Christians in India represent 2.3% of the total population [about 27.8 million, of which 19 million Catholics, out of 1.2 billion inhabitants - ed.]. "The accusation of [forced] conversion - he continues - is continually used to fuel suspicion and intolerance towards the Christian minority in India. Extremists use false propaganda based on fabricated accusations. They manipulate the majority in order to harass and intimidate the miniscule Pentecostal Christian community with numerous attacks ".

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