India persecution: Pastor arrested and tortured by police in Uttarakhand state

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent

(Worthy News) - Police in India’s Uttarakhand state arrested and tortured Christian leader Pastor Sanjay Kumar Bharati last month, accusing him of having illegal conversations about religion, International Christian Concern reports. India ranks 10 on the US Open Doors 2021 Watch List of top 50 countries which persecute Christians.

With a Hindu nationalist government in India since 2014, Christians and other faith groups have been under intensifying attack through the abuse of anti-conversion laws which purport to protect Hindus from being forced to convert to Christianity among religions.

Pastor Sanjay Kumar Bharati, his wife, his three children, and several members of his church in Shyampur, Haridwar District, were arrested on the grounds that they were holding a small prayer meeting in breach of COVID-19 restrictions, ICC said. Having been taken to the police station, Pastor Bharati was beaten by an officer who interrogated him about having illegal conversations about religion.

“As soon as I was taken inside the police station, a policeman slapped me three or four times on my face and punched me in my stomach,” Pastor Bharati told Morning Star News. “He hurled curses and accused me of alluring people and converting them.” Then, Pastor Bharati said, police officers took him to an inner room and whipped him on his legs and feet with a leather belt for 30-40 minutes. “I begged them to spare me,” the pastor said.

Upon releasing him, the police ordered Pastor Bharati to leave the village where he and his family had lived. The officers threatened to put him in jail if they received just one more complaint about him, ICC reports. The pastor has and his family has had to relocate to a place 650 miles away, ICC said.