02/20/2021 India (International Christian Concern) – Earlier this month, two Christians in southern India were falsely accused of blasphemy by radical Hindu nationalists. According to local Christians, the radical nationalists were waiting for an opportunity to make trouble for Christians.
On February 9, Pastor Ashok and Anand were falsely accused of committing blasphemy against Hinduism by members of the Bajrang Dal in Jodechikkenahalli village, located in Karnataka. As a result, Anand was arrested and sent to jail. Anand was later released, however, after he was able to post bail. Pastor Ashok was not in the village when Anand was arrested and is working on receiving anticipatory bail against the false charges.
The false blasphemy accusation against the two Christians centers around a series of prayer meeting the two had with local Christians in Jodechikkenahalli village.
“I regularly accompany my pastor to have prayer meetings in Christian homes in the village,” Anand told International Christian Concern (ICC). “On February 9, we had some prayer meetings and left the village.”
“I was not aware of the case until the police picked me up from my house,” Anand continued. “I was told by the police that a case was filed against me and my pastor for speaking against Hindu gods and goddesses. This is totally false.”
“We were accused of removing photos of Hindu gods from the homes of the people we visited,” Anand said. “The police booked the case without having any evidence. We do not even know the people who accused us.”
A local Christian leader, who requested anonymity, told ICC, “The Bajrang Dal have been waiting for the opportunity to put Christians into trouble. There is no truth in their accusations, but the police cooperated the Bajrang Dal leaders to charge these two innocent Christians.”
Radical nationalists often use false criminal accusations to harass Christian leaders. In states with anti-conversion laws, radical nationalists use false accusations of forced conversion to justify violence against Christians and their places of worship.
The Karnataka state government, controlled by the BJP, have expressed their intention to follow Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh in enacting an anti-conversion law. Christians fear the enactment of this law will lead to increased anti-Christian sentiments and anti-Christian violence.