By BosNewsLife News Center
NEW DELHI, INDIA (BosNewsLife) -- Two pastors and five Bible school students were reportedly free Saturday, September 2, after a court in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir granted them bail following their detention on charges of "concealing identity" and "forced conversion."
Pastors P.R. Anthony and Reji K. Sunny and Umesh Kumar, Tarsan Chand, Samuel Masih, Kamal Jeet and Baldev Raj – were arrested by Kathua district police Thursday, August 31, said the All India Christian Council (AICC), an influential advocacy group.
Although the seven Christians were released on bail they are to appear in court on September 16, Christians said. In a statement monitored by BosNewsLife, Sam Abraham, a local Christian leader, linked the detention and trial to the pastor’s activities which have been apparently opposed by Hindu militants and authorities in the region.
“Pastors Anthony and Ragi have been in Katuwa for many years serving in a local church where they also have a Bible school with 14 boys and 11 girls as students,” he said.
The AICC suggested that the Katuwa police were against the Bible school "where they teach Christian values to render good service and care to needy communities of Katuwa town." It stressed that “this act of Christian service through Bible training" did not violate local legislation.
"It is clear that the mastermind behind the arrests [are[ the [Hindu groups] Bajrang Dal and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, who have been attacking the Christian community with allegations of forced conversion in the State through local news papers," added Abraham
The AICC said it had appealed to the state authority, the National Commission of Minority and National Human Rights Commission “to protect the innocent Christian community in Jammu and Kashmir from the harassment of the Sangh Parivar activists."
The latest incident is the latest in what human rights watchers describe as “a series of incidents against Christians” across India, a predominantly Hindu nation of nearly 1.1 billion people.
Several Indian states have recently imposed so-called ‘anti-conversion’ laws to limit the spread of Christianity and discourage missionaries and church leaders of preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ to non-Christians, church groups say. (With reports from India and BosNewsLife Research).
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