Uttar Pradesh, police release 8 Pentecostal Christians accused of 'forced conversions'
by Nirmala Carvalho

The faithful were held for an hour in Ishanagar station. The police released them after verifying the falsity of the allegations. "Harassment and insecurity cannot extinguish the spiritual fervour of Holy Week".

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - Eight Pentecostal Christians, falsely accused of forced conversions in the city of Ishanagar, in Uttar Pradesh, were later released by the police. Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), told AsiaNews: "The GCIC is worried about the accusations against Christians. At the same time, we thank the police of the town who released the faithful who were accused without proof ".

The episode happened two days ago. The Pentecostals were arrested for "activities of conversion and diffusion of the Christian faith". Sajan K George reports that police admitted that they acted "at the behest of local citizens, who had reported them for activities related to the Christian faith. The policemen, however, neither detained nor held the accused in custody. They were held and interrogated in the police station and then released after an hour ".

Lenin Raghuvanshi, director of the Peoples' Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (Pvchr), confirms what happened and adds: "I talked to the Ishanagar police about the incident. It acted on the basis of the complaint, interrogating Christians for about an hour and ascertaining that the accusations of [forced] conversion were false ".

Sajan K George complains that "the GCIC is worried about Pentecostal Christians who are vulnerable. During Holy Week no interruption of prayers, [as well as the climate of] insecurity, harassment and intimidation of Pentecostals should dampen the spiritual fervor of the tiny Pentecostal Christian community in secular India. "