India: First Christians arrested and jailed under anti-conversion law in Uttar Pradesh state

Friday, January 8, 2021

by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent

(Worthy News) - The Indian state of Uttar Pradesh has charged and jailed its first Christians under a new anti-conversion law, International Christian Concern reports. A Korean Christian and three Indian nationals in the Gautam Buddh Nagar District of Uttar Pradesh were arrested under the new Prohibition of Unlawful Religious Conversion Ordinance on December 19, 2020.

According to a report by Morning Star News, the Christians were arrested while giving out supplies to people in need during the COVID-19 lockdown. The police complaint showed that a resident said the four had first invited her to the local church to get food and later told her they would give her money if she converted to Christianity.

In a statement to Morning Star News, Raj Kumar Masih, an aid distribution organizer said: “We have proofs of our distribution and names and phone numbers of our beneficiaries, who can testify that we have not asked any of them to change their faith or religion. All beneficiaries were distributed ration kits, but none were promised any kind of money.”

Nevertheless, the four aid workers were charged with violating the anti-conversion law and causing outrage to the “religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs.” The four appeared in court on December 20 and were sentenced to imprisonment.

ICC reports that there is widespread abuse of the anti-conversion laws in the Indian states that have enacted them. “Radical nationalists abuse these laws by falsely accusing Christians of forcefully converting individuals to Christianity to justify harassment and assault. Local police often overlook violence perpetrated against Christians due to the false accusation of forced conversions,” ICC said.