by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent
(Worthy News) - Hindu nationalists in India’s Uttar Pradesh arrested at least 30 Christians in the last month, accusing them of forcing Hindus to convert to Christianity, International Christian Concern reports. Rights groups report that persecution against Christians and other non-Hindu religious groups in India has intensified substantially since the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power in 2014.
In an incident that took place on June 27, Ram Keval and three other Christians were arrested at a Sunday worship service in the Ambedkarnagar district; they were jailed for four days. “We gathered with nearly 20 other people for Sunday worship,” Keval told ICC. “We were forcibly taken to the police station and later sent to jail for no crime.”
Describing another incident on July 18, Sadhu Srinivas Gautham told ICC he was one of several Christians arrested at a prayer meeting in Gangapur: a mob of 25 radical Hindu nationalists raided the meeting and accused the believers of tricking Hindus into becoming Christians. “They raged against me,” Gautham told ICC. “It was as if they wanted to kill me on the spot. However, the police arrived and escorted us to the police station.”
At the police station, officials told the Christians they should deny their faith and go back to Hinduism. “The police officer and officials from the district administration demonized us, saying we have deserted India’s traditional religion of Hinduism and have accepted a foreign religion,” Gautham said.
In a statement about the situation in India, ICC Regional Manager for South Asia, William Stark said, “We here at International Christian Concern are deeply concerned by the surge in persecution being reported in Uttar Pradesh...If the government of Uttar Pradesh allows this to continue, radical Hindu nationalists will know they have absolute impunity to harass Christians and close down their places of worship.”