Orissa, a Pentecostal pastor in prison on false charges of forced conversions
Mumbai (AsiaNews) - The Orissa police yesterday arrested and imprisoned Rev. Sisir Nayak, accused by Hindu radicals in the area of illegally converting Munda tribe members. According to the complaint lodged with the police, in a year and a half the Pentecostal pastor "attracted " more than 300 people in the village of Raiguda (Keonjhar district) to Christianity.
Speaking to AsiaNews, Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), defines the police version as "unacceptable. The rhetoric of [forced] conversions is often an incitement to crimes against Christians. "
Rev. Nayak is now in prison after a local court rejected his request for bail. The village where the story takes place is located in an isolated area of the mountains, in the middle of a forest. When he arrived here, a year and a half ago, the Pentecostal pastor built a house. Tensions broke out when he placed a crucifix on the building and the words "Believers Church", on its completion.
"There is a climate of impunity - Sajan George told AsiaNews - especially in states with anti-conversion law, which is being exploited to intimidate religious leaders, persecute and attack worshipers, and imprison innocent people."
In 2008, Orissa was the scene of the the worst anti-Christian pogrom in the history of India, carried out by Hindu extremists. "Even today - the GCIC president recalls - the vulnerable Christian community continues to suffer. Among other things, the district of Keonjhar is where the infamous murder of the Australian missionary Graham Stainesand his two sons, took place when they were burned alive in 1999 ".