Sajan K George: Intolerance towards Christians is growing in Uttar Pradesh
by Nirmala Carvalho

India’s most populous state leads in terms of religious intolerance and ranks first for anti-Christian violence. Radical Hindu groups have stormed private homes, interrupted liturgical services, and called in the police after accusing pastors and faithful of "forced conversions".

Mumbai (AsiaNews) – A number of Christians have recently been attacked, beaten and arrested after they were falsely accused of proselytising and engaging in forced conversions.

Speaking to AsiaNews about the issue, Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christian (GCIC), said that “In Uttar Pradesh intolerance towards the Christian faith is growing every day.” What is more, “right-wing groups are increasing their attacks on vulnerable Christian communities.”

“On 6 October, in Mau district (Uttar Pradesh), two innocent Pentecostal pastors were released on bail after they were falsely accused of forced conversions.”

Th case began “Two days earlier when some right-wing [Hindu nationalist] groups stormed into Rev Harilal's house, where he was leading a prayer service with Pastor Kalicharan.

“Six members of the radical group, led by Chandan Singh, interrupted the service and began to take pictures and film the Christians present.

“Then, as if on cue, police arrived to accuse the pastors of forced conversions and arrested them. The radicals followed them to the police station, shouting anti-Christian slogans and making accusations of conversion.

“Eventually, the two clergymen were brought before a court, where they were questioned on possible forced conversions. After a brief session, the two pastors were sent to the district jail in Mau. They were released on bail on 6 October.”

The GCIC president is appalled by the intrusion of radical groups into people’s homes. “These attacks against the sacred space of a person's home are not new. Right-wing groups act like vigilante mobs keeping an eye over small Christian communities.

“They break into private homes and accuse believers of forced conversions. This leads to the arrest of these poor Christians who are charged under various sections of the Indian penal code.”

For George, “These extremist thugs have created a situation that apparently upholds the law, but in reality, they are the first to break it.” There are many examples.

“On 27 May, also in Mau district, a group of extremists brutally beat a Protestant clergyman, who was hospitalised. The reason for the beating: Suspicion of forced conversions.

“In late January, three Christians were released on bail after more than two months in prison. Rev Ajay Kumar, 23, his colleague Om Prakash, 20, and Kapil Dev Ram, a 62-year-old believer were charged with forced conversions. All the accusations are fabricated.”

Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state (about 200 million), is led by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, a guru known for his views against Christians and other religious minorities.

According to the Institute for Leadership and Community Development, Uttar Pradesh ranks first among Indian states for religious and ethnic violence.

The Violence Monitor, a monthly that monitors violence against Christians, also ranks Uttar Pradesh among the worse when it comes to anti-Christian violence.