"Why would we engage in conversion? What will we benefit from that?” asked Savita, a Hindu, whose husband was beaten for allegedly converting others (Photo by Bijay Kumar Minj)
Police in northern India have arrested 20 people from a hard-line Hindu group for assaulting and parading a young man on a donkey accusing him of trying to convert three people to Christianity.
Police said Awadesh Savita, 35, was attacked Jan. 29 in Rendhar village of Uttar Pradesh state.
Some 20 men barged into his house, assaulted him and his wife and took Savita to the nearby Orai town. There they hired a barber to shave his head, half of his moustache and one eyebrow.
They also put a garland of shoes on him and paraded around town before taking him to the police station, accusing him of trying to convert others. Some 200 people took part in this incident.
"The complaint is not valid as preliminary investigation has proved that Awadesh Savita was not involved in conversion activities," Manoj Kumar, police official at the Orai police station told ucanews.com.
Police arrested 20 people belonging to the Bajrang Dal, a militant Hindu organization. "More arrests will follow in the coming days," he added.
Savita's wife Rekha told ucanews.com that some villagers were upset about their family because of their interest in Christ after they sought treatment for their 7-year-old son at a Christian hospital in Varanasi.
Rekha maintains that she and her family did not convert to Christianity. "Why would we engage in conversion? What will we benefit from that?" she asked.
The Uttar Pradesh state government has no law banning religious conversions but Christian leaders say hard-line groups are against conversions in the state, where Hindus from 80 percent of its 200 million people. Christians are negligible minority in the state.
Christian leaders also say attacks against religious minorities as well as those in favor of such groups have increased across India ever since the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party came to power in New Delhi almost two years ago.