Pastor Arrested on False Charges of Forced Conversion again in India.
FIACONA News Service (FNS):
September 20, 2021, New Delhi, India. Christian persecution has reached alarming levels across India. From being falsely accused of forcefully converting people, to beating and murdering innocent pastors. Extremist groups have launched statewide protests against innocent evangelists and pastors demanding harsh punishment for religious conversion.
Pastor Ashish, a native missionary, has been working among the people of a remote village in the state of Uttar Pradesh, North India. It is not the first time he has faced such animosities for his ministry.
On 12th September 2021, Ashish was arrested from his home by police on charges of alluring people with money and converting them to Christianity. The Hindu nationalist groups supporting Prime Minister Modi registered a complaint at the police station that Ashish lures people by offering them money for changing their religion in Simariya village.
Pastor Ashish categorically said, “I have never offered money to people for changing their faith. People come to me from all communities to find an answer to their issues or seek my prayers. Sometimes they ask me to pray for their sick relatives, and I pray for them”.
The Hindu nationalist leaders went to each member of the church asking how they started following Christianity. Each had their own reasons but no one accused the pastor of offering them any financial incentives to join the congregation.
But, the Hindu nationalist activists persuaded one youth to falsely testify against the pastor to make their case.
Based on that young man’s testimony the police have arrested Ashish under the Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance 2020 enacted by Mr. Yogi Adityanath the hardline leader of Mr. Modi’s BJP party. The law makes conversion a non-bailable crime with up to 10 years of jail time.
Pastor Ashish is still held by police without bail. Members of his congregation have expressed serious concerns about his safety. They have sent out a request for prayers from friends and family.
UPDATE: Sept 24, 2021. It is now understood that Pastor Ashish was granted bail by the court on September 22nd. He will be appearing for the trial soon to argue against the false charges against him.