Seven Pentecostal Christians in Uttar Pradesh, northern India, have been arrested for “forced conversions”, reports Asia News.
The seven, who also allegedly insulted Hindu deities, appeared in court on Monday (11 December) and have been remanded in custody for 14 days.
“The allegations are baseless,” said Sajan George, President of the Global Council of Indian Christians. “The arrest is not only a threat to the ethos of tolerance and to communal harmony, but also sets a dangerous precedent.”
The Christians had been handing out Bibles in the village of Mathura. One resident said they tried to forcefully convert someone after their message was rejected.
Uttar Pradesh is a majority-Hindu state, with Christians in a minority of 0.18 per cent, according to the last census. The state has seen a rise in vigilantism against minorities, especially against couples in interfaith relationships. The new Chief Minister, Yogi Adityanath, is a long-term Hindu nationalist and was involved in a “purification” drive in 2006 that saw almost 2,000 Christians convert to Hinduism.