Protestant clergyman ‘converted’ by Hindu nationalists in Uttar Pradesh (VIDEO)
by Nirmala Carvalho

A local source told AsiaNews that strong pressure is being exerted on Christian communities. “Pray for us,” he asks. For Sajan K George of the Global Council of Indian Christians, this is happening all the time. “Police inertia encourages these right-wing extremists,” he laments. These same people then cry wolf about so-called forced conversions by Christians.

Ghazipur (AsiaNews) – In India, the areas where forced conversion charges against Christians are the loudest, are also where Hindu extremists do not hesitate to target Christians to "bring them back" to the fold.

In Ghazipur, a district in Uttar Pradesh, one of the Indian states ruled by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Christian communities feel pressure to perform Ghar Wapsi or “homecoming”, as pictures here show.

Yesterday, Rev Raju, the pastor of a small local Protestant community, was forced to undergo the Hindu rite of reconversion and abandon Christianity.

"Pastors and missionaries who sincerely carry out their missionary work are going through an unprecedented crisis,” this according to a local source that sent this information. “Watching the video you can understand that the pastor is not reciting Hindu prayers at all. Pray for us Christians of Uttar Pradesh."

"It is nothing new or unusual, unfortunately,” said Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), speaking to AsiaNews.

“Whether it is in Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, or anywhere else in the country, Hindutva organisations are always ready to cry wolf for what they call 'forced conversions', while police inertia encourages these right-wing extremists."

"Many Pentecostal churches and prayer halls in remote parts of India are founded with limited means, put together by small groups of believers in their villages. They don't have the financial independence even to support their families, let alone the strength to attract people by fraudulent means.”

"All they can promise is a sense of community, a feeling of respect and dignity and spiritual well-being, but nothing in terms of material benefits. And yet whenever the question of someone's acceptance of the Christian faith arises in India, the popular perception is that the person in question has converted only under duress or thanks to some economic benefit.”

For George, such "An anti-Christian sentiment is not limited to Hindu extremists, but flows deep through our society. As a community, Christians are depicted as having one sole purpose in life, that is to proselytise and see their numbers grow.

“But the numbers prove otherwise. The 1971 census estimated that Christians represented 2.6 per cent of India's population. In 2001, that figure fell to 2.3 per cent. And the religious breakdown of the 2011 Census has never been disclosed.”

“Despite all this, the pressure of these groups on the police has unfortunately become routine, especially when it comes to issues relating to religious minorities. This does not bode well for social harmony."