India (MNN) — Hindu radicals in Uttar Pradesh have accused 271 Christians of various crimes such as using drugs to convert people to Christianity and spreading misinformation about Hinduism.
Brijesh Singh, the complainant’s advocate, alleges that these Christians were convincing people from local districts to attend a church in Baldeh village. According to Singh, they were even distributing “prohibited medicines and drugs” and prompting conversions while users were under the influence.
The Voice of the Martyrs’ Todd Nettleton explains, “The court, instead of saying that’s ridiculous, they actually allowed the charges to go forward. So now we have a First Information Report against 271 people for this charge of talking bad about Hinduism and it all goes back to those anti-conversion laws that are written to keep Christian groups and other groups from talking to Hindus about changing their faith.”
The names of three Pentecostal pastors were released with the charges — Durga Prasad Yadav, Kirit Rai, and Jitendra Ram. The others accused are merely noted as their accomplices.
“This situation pretty clearly illustrates how the anti-conversion laws in India are being used against Christians. This is a case where an advocate from a radical Hindu group went to court and said, ‘Hey, look, these Christians are inducing people to change their religion.’”
Nettleton recently spoke with Pastor Kumar from the All India Christian Council on the Voice of the Martyrs Radio podcast. During the podcast, Nettleton shares, “[Pastor Kumar] talked about one of these anti-conversion laws, [which] says if you want to talk to someone about changing their faith,…six months before you are going to have that conversation you need to go before a magistrate and say, ‘I’m planning to have this conversation with this person about changing their faith,’ and get the magistrate to sign off on that.”
Anti-conversion laws like this are often used to target Christians and other religious minorities in India. They are also used to prevent Hindus from leaving the faith.
“That’s what these anti-conversion laws are. They are completely unreasonable, they completely undermine the promise of religious freedom that the Indian Constitution contains, and yet here we are again with a case where 271 people have been charged based on these completely unjust laws.”
It’s not just legally dangerous for Christians in India. Believers there also face physical danger. Uttar Pradesh is known for being one of the harshest Indian states for Christians to live. According to ADF-India and Project Doto, Uttar Pradesh had the most violent attacks and hate crimes committed against Christians in the first half of 2018.
Nettleton reminds us, “Yes, there are political aspects to it, but it’s a spiritual battle. We need to pray for Christians in India to continue to be bold witnesses even though they know this could happen. They know they could be taken to court. They know they could face charges when they have those conversations, but let’s pray that they stay encouraged and that they stay bold.”
Please pray specifically for the 271 Christians, including three pastors, who are facing these accusations. Pray for the charges to be cleared and for their faith to grow stronger in this situation.
Also, he adds, “As the Bible tells us, let’s pray for the persecutors. Let’s pray for this radical Hindu group that is coming against the Church. Pray for the judge in the case and the attorneys involved, and pray for God’s spirit to move in the nation of India.”