Nearly 300 Christians in a northern part of India have been charged with crimes, including trying to convert Hindus to Christianity with drugs and spreading lies about Hinduism.
According to World Watch Monitor, 271 Christians were charged. Only three have been named – pastors Durga Prasad Yadav, Kirit Rai and Jitendra Ram.
Previously, a court in August cleared the charges, but Deputy Police Superintendent Anil Kumar Pandey says the Christians are accused of “various criminal offenses, like fraud, defiling places of worship and prejudice against national integration.”
Said Sajan K. George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians: “In Uttar Pradesh Hindu radicals have fabricated unfounded accusations against innocent Pentecostal Christians.”
“There has been a surge in persecution against Christians,” he added. “Pentecostal pastors and Christian groups are under the constant watch of radical elements and the police.”
However, a lawyer for the party who filed the complaint said the Christians have been trying for years to convert people to Christianity.
“The accused handed out banned medications and drugs to visitors and under their effect influenced them to become Christians,” he said.
According to religious freedom group ADF India, Christians in the Uttar Pradesh area experienced 26 attacks on them in just the first half of 2018.
“Violent attacks, which to Christian minorities had been experiencing in Uttar Pradesh are all part of the state machinery,” a volunteer with aid organization said. “It is state-sponsored violence. The attackers are well aware that Christians in rural areas especially can be easily targeted.”
Photo courtesy: Unsplash/Naveed Ahmed