03/18/2021 Washington, DC. (International Christian Concern) – Since the passing of the Freedom of Religion (FoR) bill on March 1, 2021, in Madhya Pradesh, India, Christian residents began seeing a disturbing rise in bold physical violence and church closures. Right-wing religious nationalists threaten Christians in this area daily.
International Christian Concern (ICC) recently interviewed one man among suffering due to the new anti-conversion law.
Mr. Kaluram, a young Christian man from a remote village in Madhya Pradesh, married his wife Kesar, a Hindu woman, three years ago, despite their different religious practices. Until recently, they lived a peaceful and happy marriage. Now, this law criminalizes religious conversions, including inter-religious marriages.
“Everything was going fine until the enactment of the new anti-conversion law that the Madhya Pradesh government passed in the state recently. I have only two options before me. One, deny my faith and keep my wife, or two, keep my faith but leave my wife, then go to jail.”
Kaluram’s life significantly changed on February 27. Acting on the January 7 guidelines to end illegal religious conversions, a group of right-wing RSS members threatened Kaluram. The men told Kaluram to stop his Christian prayers or face severe consequences and demanded proof he did not marry Kesar to convert her to Christianity.
One week later, two days after the FoR passed, the RSS members returned with Kesar’s parents. “We are not going to keep our daughter with you because we come from different religions, and the marriage is not valid,” they said. Kesar’s father went with RSS members to the local police station and filed a complaint against Kaluram, saying that he duped Kesar into marrying him.
Police informed Kaluram he had 30 days to either reconvert back to Hinduism or face up to 10 years in jail and lose his family.
“I don’t know what I should be doing. Everything seems to be going against me. My family and I are worried as time goes on.”
Christian individuals and congregations feel strangled by the pressure and harassment from religious nationalists who use the FoR law as a legal means to attack and destroy religious minorities in India.