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12 jailed Indian pastors, 9 others get bail

They were booked under the stringent anti-conversion law in Uttar Pradesh, the most populous state in the country
Christians participating in a prayer meeting in the city of Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh

Christians participating in a prayer meeting in the city of Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh. (Photo: Facebook)

Published: May 26, 2023 11:07 AM GMT
Updated: May 27, 2023 04:39 AM GMT

The embattled Christian community in a north Indian state has heaved a collective sigh of relief after 12 jailed pastors and nine other faithful were granted bail in a number of cases involving the alleged violation of stringent anti-conversion law.

“It is a major victory for us,” said Dinanath Jaiswal, a social activist who is helping the Christians with the legal cases filed against them in Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state.

Pastors Vijay Masih and Ajay Samuel, who got bail from the Allahabad High Court this week, the top court in India’s largest state, had spent more than six months in jail after they were charged with violating provisions of the Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Act, 2021.

There are at least 33 pastors and believers languishing in different jails in 12 districts in Uttar Pradesh, where Christians account for a mere 0.18 of its 200 million population.

“Definitely, it is a matter of great joy and pride as our 12 brothers are out on bail,” Jaiswal told UCA News on May 26. “Now, our effort will be to release the 21 others, including pastors and believers, languishing in different jails for no fault of theirs."

He said all the Christians arrested in the state were "victims of misuse of the state’s anti-conversion law.”

“The constitution guarantees freedom to follow a religion, but when Christians exercise their constitutional right it is falsely branded as an anti-conversion activity and they are arrested,” Jaiswal added. 

The anti-conversion law makes it clear that no person shall convert or attempt to convert, either directly or otherwise, any other person from one religion to another by use or practice of misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, allurement or by any fraudulent means or by marriage, nor shall any person abet, convince or conspire such conversion.

The law has a provision of imprisoning the violators for up to 10 years and the imposition of a maximum fine of Rs 50,000 (US$690).

“Christians partially face targeted attacks from right-wing Hindu organizations who take advantage of this law, branding our prayer services and even family gatherings as mass conversion events,” observed a Church leader who preferred not to be named.

He said it was easy for anyone to target a Christian prayer gathering or a donation or gift to a non-Christian as a case of religious conversion.

“In case of a religious conversion, the complaint should come from either those converted or from their close family members, but in all these cases our people are in jail despite not a single complaint from the converted or their families,” he said.

Often police register cases after pro-Hindu activists lodged complaints, he said.

“This seems to be the strategy to harass Christians in false cases,” the Church leader said. 

Eleven states in India have enacted an anti-conversion law, but not a single conversion case has led to a conviction in a court of law.

Human rights groups have challenged their constitutional validity in India’s top court. Since India’s Supreme Court has not stayed their implementation, the anti-conversion laws remain in force in the 11 states.

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38 Comments on this Story
SUBHOJIT DHAR
It's a bail, not an acquittal. Trying to coerce people into conversion is a crime and crime will be punished. BTW I was told after an interview that I would get the job if I converted. 6 months later I saw on TV the same guy lamenting on TV that he kicked out bcos he was a Christian. Two of my nephews were offered admission in top notch schools in Kolkata if they converted. For u guys that maybe passe. But here it's a crime and those indulging in it are criminals who sometimes (though it should be always) are prosecuted.
VINAY GARDEN SOCIETY
Right
JAYARAJ
You know you are speaking lie. There has never been any such attempt nor will there be one. We work among the marginalized or the ignored ones. As the Holy Bible says we preach the lord crucified. About a God that loves us. They convert seeing the truth. That is why they never go astray. So sir speak only the truth.
C R BABU
No one is keeping a knife on your throat and asking you to convert.You want admission in good Christian schools for quality education.If you hate Christians then you should not show up at Christians school and instead to to RSS shakhas that promote hate against minorities.
MOHAMED KAMAL
You can awaken a sleeping man, but not one pretending to be asleep. You know that this law is unconstitutional and illegal but just because you hold the stick, you are using it. This and more such laws will be discarded in the dustbin of history as they are against individual freedom of religion.
JOHN MASCARENHAS
if you have proof, take it to court. not a single case of conversion has been proved so far in india!!!YOU AND YOUR SICK ILK MUST STOP MAKING FAKE ALLEGATIONS!
SHARMILA ALEXANDER CHINTAGADA
This is so pathetic. Is india under a dictatorship? If God is with us who can be against us. He will fight the battle for us.
ASHUTOSH KUMAR
No more rice bags, no conversion in the name of curing cancer or piles by healing touch of thugs fathers and sisters, no more conversion by offering few hundred Rupees...do exploit poverty, poor health conditions, temporary needs to convert.You people are absolute thugs.
SYED
If you really believe in God then first convert jihadi terrorists to christian
BUNKED
Shame on missionaries ruining culture of other countries.. no one wants ur jesus keep it to urself
ANONYMOUS
Just say no to them, no body can convert u
CHANDRA CHARYYA MUSHAHARY
Truth will prevail at last. Let us all wait His appointed time with unfailing hope.
JESUSLOVES
That is your choice but Jesus still loves you. God doesnt force His love on you. You truly have freedom to choose God and His ways or reject it completely.
BIJU VARGHESE
But Jesus still loves u because he loves the sinner but hates sin.
C R BABU
The country belongs to Indian Christians as much to any other Indians and it's our right as per constitution to preach and practice our faith. While PM or his cronies harass the minorities in BJP ruled states they Lick the Bishops in Kerala with their outreach to garner Christian votes whose percentage of votes is 24%.
LAPA
No one wants ur fake hindu god
BHARATHI RAJA JEYABALAN
Have You Seen Ram or ur Forefathers have seen Lord Ram.V as Christians Respect all God's So v to expect the same from our brothers and Sisters from other faith. Love, Respect. Jai Sri Ram,Jai Yesu Prabhu. Our deeds should prove what v are not Our Religion,caste etc.
JOHN MASCARENHAS
EVERY ADULT HAS THE RIGHT TO CONVERT OR GET CONVERTED. RELIGION DOES NOT BELONG TO ANY COUNTRY OR CULTURE. LEARN TO RESPECT OTHER RELIGIONS AS THEY ALL LEAD TO THE SAME GOD. who forced you to accept JESUS? i do not think JESUS wants people like you.
VVBB
Keep Ur jesus and Ur Raphael jet hehehehe
CHANDINI SAXENA
Uttar Pradesh most populous state in India and also the most Anti Christian state in IndiaNN
HARISH
It seems that UCA is funded by vatican and conversion mission.
DR J N NAIDU
Christian pastors are most fraudulently converting people with false promises. They should be put in Jails
RAHUL
Hindus should not apply convert or die policy.
MATHEW
PRAISE THE LORD. LORD FORGIVE THEM BECAUSE THEY DON'T KNOW WHAT THEY ARE DOING
SAM
Congratulations
SARAVANAN M
Kill them charge double fine demolition church program christian 200 percentage tax to be paid
ABHISHEK JAIN
Stop converting poor people of India.
C R BABU
Sad that some hardcore Hindutva bakths want to milk the Christian Institutions for quality education and later spread hate against Christian community.The police in collution with sanghis file false cases of conversion by misusing stupid biased laws of these BJP ruled states.
BADRI
Frudulant comment. Criminals has to be in jail
PPC
These rascal christiens are brain washing the poor and doing only multilevel marketing (MLM) in our Bharat Desh!.....
MM REDDY
I want prayer oil and holy water..what is the cost?
ANIT
It's really shame still people r been converted it's a fact there too much conversions happening in north India..should give very strict punishment
AVINASH BALANI
These christian missionaries are equally dangerous as PFI They should not be allowed to roam free
PRAJWAL
It's just shaming our Christian community why it's not taking place in state like Goa Karnataka and Maharashtra.....up Yogi is dangerous iradicating Christianity this won't happen in south India we will fight back✌️
SARATHA
I'm beginning to understand the sustained opposition to the Modi government. Nationalism shouldn't extend to practice of faith.
SABY FERNANDES
In southern parts of india there are genuine cases of conversion where monetary benefits and coercion is rampant.
RAMESH
It is unfortunate that even 70 years after independence, this kind of activity, mostly under the supervision of foreigners like Soros is being practiced. They do conversion by claiming hindus are devils and the fear of God is brought in. They target poor people as well as gullible middle class people. Constitution of India is not Gita. It is man made and is not infallible. First thing is to remove the term secular, which was stealthily introduced by Indiragandhi using her bruit majority.
JACOB FRANCIS
Jesus said in Matthew 5:11 "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. It is not easy to follow Jesus and his teachings, all the 12 disciples were martyred, it's because of their sacrifices and many saints and pastor's we are 2.2billion and still counting, nobody can stop God's work,not even the laws, when ever Christians were persecuted the numbers grew even more.
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