India State Detains Christian Missionary

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

By Mary Priddy, Worthy News Correspondent

NEW DELHI, INDIA (Worthy News) -- A Christian missionary remained detained in India Tuesday, January 13, more than a week after he was detained in the state of  Madhya Pradesh for allegedly forcing people to convert to Christianity, his organization said.

Mission group Gospel for Asia (GFA) said its co-worker Yashpal Bhuta Masih was arrested Monday, January 5, after "police charged him with attempting to force three people to convert to Christianity."

Local police reportedly said that that three people from the village where Yashpal works accused him of "offering them education, money and jobs in exchange for converting to Christianity." GFA denied the charges, saying it does "not use such tactics to share the Gospel."

GFA added that, "In many cases, those who do choose to follow Christ know that their life will become more difficult—not better—as they face persecution for their new faith," in this predominantly Hindu nation. Hindu groups have expressed concern about the spread of Christianity, with Christians now comprising just over two percent of the countries over one billion population


Several Indian states, including Madhya Pradesh, have enacted legislation banning religious conversions "carried out by force, fraud or allurement.” However advocacy groups say the laws have  been misused to harass Christians, especially pastors and missionaries. Hindu groups have expressed concerns about the spread of

GFA said it remains concerned as "Yashpal, who is married and has three children, remains locked up." It said officials in Madhya Pradesh are working to have the missionary released on bail, pending his trial.

"They are asking Christians to pray for justice to be done in this case, that the Lord will grant Yashpal the strength to endure this trial and for comfort for his wife and children while he is being held," the group said. (With reporting by Worthy News' Stefan J. Bos).