07/22/2021 India (International Christian Concern) – According to local sources, nine Christians in India were arrested and sent to jail on July 18 after being falsely accused of violating Uttar Pradesh’s new anti-conversion law. In recent weeks, International Christian Concern (ICC) has documented a surge in false anti-conversion accusations in India’s Uttar Pradesh state.
Sadhu Srinivas Gautham, one of the Christians arrested July 18, reports a mob of 25 radical Hindu nationalists stormed a prayer meeting he attended in Gangapur. The mob accused the Christians of illegally luring Hindus into converting to Christianity.
“They raged against me,” Gautham told ICC. “It was as if they wanted to kill me on the spot. However, police arrived and escorted us to the police station.”
Along with six other Christians, Gautham was taken to the police station and charged with violating Uttar Pradesh’s anti-conversion law.
“The police officer and officials from the district administration demonized us saying we have deserted India’s traditional religion of Hinduism and have accepted a foreign religion,” Gautham continued. “They told us we should deny our Christian faith and go back to Hinduism.”
All seven Christians were jailed for three days. They are currently out on bail but have been charged with violating at least six sections of the Indian Penal Code.
In a similar incident in July 18, Pastor Dinesh Kumar and a Christian named Ghanshyam were arrested in a private home in the Bahraich District where a prayer meeting was taking place. Again, the Christians were accused of violating Uttar Pradesh’s anti-conversion law after being assaulted by radical Hindu nationalists.
“This has been a pattern for the radical Hindu nationalist and the state administration,” Gautham explained. “They always support each other in discriminating and harassing religious minorities. It is easy as anybody can falsely witness against Christians without a sign of evidence.”
Three days later, on July 21, three more Christians were arrested in Padrauna. Pastor Jeyawant, his wife, and his brother, who oversee an orphanage, were arrested after state government officials raided the orphanage. Police arrested the three Christians and took the 24 orphans they cared for into custody.
In a recently published article, ICC reported that at least 18 Christians had been arrested in Uttar Pradesh under the state’s anti-conversion law. Adding the arrests that occurred on July 18 and 21, the number of arrests has now risen to 30.
The increased persecution was triggered by the arrest of two Muslims under Uttar Pradesh’s new anti-conversion law. Hindu nationalists, including members of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government, claimed the two men were involved in the forceful conversion of more than 1,000 people.
Using the arrests as an opportunity for political gain, BJP politicians lauded the arrests and warned of others involved in the fraudulent conversion of Hindus to non-Hindu faiths.