Rising violence against Christians in Uttar Pradesh ahead of state elections

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Rising violence against Christians in Uttar Pradesh ahead of state elections

Nirmala Carvalho

The state’s legislative assembly is set for renewal next year. For the Global Council of Indian Christians, acts of violence and incidents of discrimination against the Christian minority have reached a crescendo. A pastor and two worshipers have been arrested in Noida. The pastor of the Mission India Church was held for hours without charges along with 20 other religious leaders in Robertsganj.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) – More Christians have been discriminated in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.

Police in Noida arrested and detained Rev Rampal and two Christians, named Lalu Gautam and Ranjeet, on false charges of celebrating religious rites without permission. Police in Robertsganj took into custody Rev Sajju K John, a Pentecostal clergyman with the Mission India Church, and held him and 20 other pastors for hours at a local police station without charges.

Speaking to AsiaNews, Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), said that acts of violence against Christians have seen a sudden rise, all connected to radical right-wing nationalist forces, who are seeking visibility ahead of next year’s state elections.

“Right wing forces are whipping up communal frenzy against the vulnerable minority Christian community on baseless and fabricated conversion charges,” the GCIC president said:

Rev Rampal and the two Christians were arrested during Sunday Mass. Police in Noida interrupted the service and took the men to a local station, accusing them of celebrating the service without a permit since their church is considered unregistered.

In Robertsganj, Rev Sajju K John, a Pentecostal pastor, and 20 other Christian leaders were arrested last Saturday, as they recited their evening prayers. A crowd of Hindu radicals had interrupted the meeting, forced participants into the street, humiliated them and beat them with sticks, until the police took them away. They were released hours later without being charged.

"The GCIC condemns the enthusiasm with which the police intentionally interrupts and stops innocent Christians,” Sajan K George said. “Our greatest concern is the frequency with which such incidents occur in Uttar Pradesh and police inertia vis-à-vis sectarian elements who want to impose their own law and order."

The Christian leader noted that just a few days ago in Orai, also in Uttar Pradesh, pro-Hindutva* Hindu nationalists publicly humiliated a Christian man.

After shaving his hair, beard and eyebrows, they dressed him with garlands of shoes and paraded him through the streets riding a donkey. "He too had been falsely accused of forced conversions,” Mr George said.

In view of the situation, the GCIC has called for action to protect Christians in Uttar Pradesh, especially ahead of next year’s state assembly election.

* Hindutva (“Hindu-ness”) is an ideology that defines what is Indian with what is Hindu

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