10/04/2021 India (International Christian Concern) – On September 25, Pastor Shyam Sunder was arrested by police in India’s Uttar Pradesh state on false forced conversion charges. The next day, September 26, Pastor Sunder became the latest Christian leader in Uttar Pradesh to be booked under the state’s new anti-conversion law.
According to local sources, Pastor Sunder was arrested as he led a prayer gathering on September 25 in a village called Lakhna, located in the Etawah District. At 11:30 a.m., four policemen broke up the prayer gathering and placed Pastor Sunder under arrest.
Pastor Sunder’s family reports that police ruthlessly beat Pastor Sunder while he was at the police station for nearly 24 hours. In addition to the physical abuse, police denied Pastor Sunder any food while he was interrogated.
While Pastor Sunder was at the police station, four policemen were sent to his home in search of evidence. Police confiscated Bibles and Christian songbooks as evidence to be brought against the pastor.
While police were searching the family home, a mob of radical Hindu nationalists gathered around the house. Sensing danger, Pastor Sunder’s family fled their home village and moved to an undisclosed location with the help of local Christians.
After 24 hours in police custody, Pastor Sunder was charged with engaging in forced religious conversions under Uttar Pradesh’s new anti-conversion law.
Since late-June, a wave of persecution and arrests under has swept across the state. International Christian Concern (ICC) has documented at least 37 incidents of persecution taking place in Uttar Pradesh since late-June, effecting at least 105 Christian individuals.