India persecution: Christians imprisoned for praying with grieving family

Monday, August 16, 2021

by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent

(Worthy News) - Three Christians have been imprisoned in India’s Uttar Pradesh state after Hindu extremists beat them up and accused them of unlawfully converting people to Christianity, Morning Star News reports. Persecution against Christians in India has greatly intensified since the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party came to power in 2014.

Pastor Neel Durai, Pastor Vijay Kumar Patel and his wife Kiran Deviin were physically attacked and later arrested after responding to a request from 62-year-old Lalji Vishwakarma to come to his home in Phoolpur, Uttar Pradesh, and pray for him and his family, MSN. “I lost my wife, son, and daughter-in-law to COVID one after the other,” Vishwakarma told MSN. “My young granddaughters, ages 10 and 12, and I were longing for God’s servants to visit us, pray for us, and comfort us.”

However, a neighbor overheard the Christians praying together and summoned a group of around 20 Hindu extremist locals from the Thakur community, Vishwakarma said. “They barged inside the house and falsely accused me and the pastors visiting my house of forced conversions. They had beaten up the pastors badly and also issued threats that they would kill us.”

At the persistent request of villagers, officers from Phoolpur police station arrested Pastor Durai, Pastor Patel, and Kiran Deviin. The Christians were charged under a new anti-conversion law with forcibly converting Hindus including minors to Christianity, MSN said.

Legal experts have said Uttar Pradesh’s anti-conversion law, like similar harsh ordinances in other Indian states, violates the right to religious freedom enshrined in India’s Constitution, MSN reports. “The Hindu extremists have been pressuring me to record a statement against the pastors, and there is a threat to my life also,” Vishwakarma told Morning Star News.