10/19/2021 India (International Christian Concern) – According to Morning Star News, several Christians in India’s Uttar Pradesh state were beaten in police custody after they were falsely accused of engaging in forced conversions. This incident has been reported as part of a larger crackdown on Christians in Uttar Pradesh following the enactment of an anti-conversion law.
On September 1, Sabajeet, Gopinath, and Chotelal were arrested by police in Tatmuraini, located in the Sultanpur District of Uttar Pradesh. According to Morning Star News, the three gathered in Sabajeet’s home and were accused of engaging in forced religious conversions by Sabajeet’s neighbors.
The group was taken to the Chanda Police Station where they were interrogated and beaten by the police. Gopinath, however, was released before the interrogation began.
“The in-charge of the police station charged at us with bamboo, shouting casteist slurs; he told us, ‘You filthy rogues, you eat the food from Indian soil and serve foreign masters,’” Sabajeet told Morning Star News. “As this exchange continued, the officer bruised our backs and hands with lathis until he grew tired.”
As the interrogation continued, the police officer became enraged and spoke against Christianity in India.
“The officer kept saying, ‘Why would your neighbors complain against you if you had done no wrong?’” Sabajeet told Morning Star News. “He said, ‘You are sharing about Jesus and attracting Hindus towards your faith. How dare you convert Hindus to Christianity.’”
According to Sabajeet, the officer in-charge threatened to charge them under Uttar Pradesh’s anti-conversion law unless they paid him a “penalty” of 5,000 rupees. While Sabajeet initially resisted paying the bribe, he eventually gave the officer the 5,000 rupees.
“My heart could sense that the officers would not let me go easily,” Sabajeet told Morning Star News. “I was being reminded of verses from the Bible, and an inner voice was preparing me that I should not let fear consume. I was recalling the verses in my heart and was being prepared for the humiliation and the physical pain I was subjected to later that night.”
The next day, September 2, Sabajeet and Chotelal were released. The pair were charged, however, with violating COVID-19 protocols by assembling five or more persons. Police also issued a dire warning, telling them they would be prosecuted if they continued to hold Christian worship in the village.
“Hindu temples and all places of worship are open, and people are gathering in large numbers in the state,” Sabajeet told Morning Star News. “But only Christian worship services are targeted and framed under the provisions of law for assembling as five or more in number.”
A severe wave of persecution has been sweeping across Uttar Pradesh since late-June. International Christian Concern (ICC) has documented over 50 incidents of persecution in this wave of persecution, affecting over 130 Christians. In most cases, radical Hindu nationalists use false accusations of forced conversions to justify their attacks, leading to the arrest and imprisonment of Christians leaders.