Uttar Pradesh pastor arrested on charges of conversion
Hindu nationalist groups accuse him of luring people to his church with money. “These accusations of conversion are fabricated,” said Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians. “The few Pentecostal Christians in Uttar Pradesh live in fear and insecurity” because Hindu extremists improperly use the anti-conversion law “as a tool of harassment”.
Varanasi (AsiaNews) – Police in Varanasi district (Uttar Pradesh) yesterday arrested Rev Chhotelal Jaiswar, a pastor resident in Barwa, Sindhora, after right-wing Hindu nationalists accused him of encouraging people to embrace Christianity through donations of 50,000 rupees (about US$ 610).
Police said he was questioned and action would be taken against him. In their complaint, the Hindu Jagran Manch and Dharma Jagran Seva organisations claim to have caught the pastor red-handed and turned him over to police.
According to them, Rev Jaiswar gave 2,000 rupees to three young men from the village of Thana Phulpur, promising them the rest of the sum on 16 October when “the conversion programme would be formally completed" at the Sarva India Ministry Church in Babatpur.
At the event, however, the young people came with two leaders of Hindu organisations.
"These accusations of conversions are fabricated and baseless,” said Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), speaking to AsiaNews.
"The few Pentecostal Christians in Uttar Pradesh live in fear and insecurity because of right-wing nationalist vigilantes. In addition, they live in poverty, so it is impossible for them to lure someone with money.
“Uttar Pradesh's new anti-conversion law, passed in 2021, prohibits illegal conversion from one religion to another by misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, or by any fraudulent means.
“But it is improperly used as a tool of harassment. On the basis of a simple verbal complaint, Christian services are interrupted and believers arrested.”