Indian Christian devotees hold candles and placards during a demonstration against a suspected attack on a church in Amritsar on Dec. 2, 2014. (Photo: AFP)
Three Christian women arrested by police for alleged violation of the anti-conversion law in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh were released on bail by a local court on Oct. 13.
The bail applications of four others, including a pastor, arrested in the Mau incident are likely to come up for hearing on Oct. 16, said Pastor Dinanath Jaiswal.
The seven were part of a group of some 50 Christians attacked by Hindu radicals while attending a Sunday service at the Mau district headquarters.
“The women are so traumatized that they are not in a position to explain their ordeal,” Pastor Jaiswal told UCA News on Oct. 14.
He said Christians in the state were living under tremendous pressure and fear after repeated attacks on their prayer meetings across parts of the state.
A local Catholic priest who did not want to be named told UCA News that attacks by fanatic Hindu mobs under the pretext of keeping a check on so-called forced religious conversion activities had become the norm in India’s most populous state.
We are scared as they can attack us any time and put the blame on us. The police and political leadership side with the attackers
In Mau, Pastor Abraham Shakil and his wife were put behind bars in the latest incident while Pastor Raju Manjhi was arrested a few days ago. In Azamgarh, Pastor Nathaniel along with his wife was in jail. If they don’t get bail in the lower courts, they have to approach the high court for relief, the priest said.
“We are scared as they can attack us any time and put the blame on us. The police and political leadership side with the attackers. Many pastors have stopped conducting prayer services,” he added.
Uttar Pradesh has become a hotbed of Christian persecution since Yogi Adityanth, a Hindu seer and politician from India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), became the state's chief minister in 2017.
As many as 374 cases of persecution of Christians have been reported from almost every district of Uttar Pradesh since Adityanth assumed power. Attacks have increased since the provincial legislature passed an anti-conversion law in September 2020.
Christians and Muslims face increasing hostilities from Hindu nationalist groups in the state. Christians, mostly belonging to smaller Protestant groups, are often accused of forcing people to convert through allurements of money and employment.
Armed mobs often barge into prayer houses and residences where prayer meetings are held. They shout slogans, beat up the men, women and even children, vandalize and burn properties, the Bible and hymnals, then summon the police and force them to arrest the victims.
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