New Delhi (Agenzia Fides) - Aggression and violence against Christians have been registered in recent weeks in Uttar Pradesh, a state in northern India. This is what A.C. Michael, human rights activist, Christian and former member of the Indian Government's minority commission says in an interview with Agenzia Fides. Michael states that the attacks are perpetrated by Hindu fundamentalist groups, in collaboration with local police authorities. The activist notes that in September 2018, in the district of Jaunpur, in the state of Uttar Pradesh, at least 12 incidents of violence against Christians occurred.
Some Protestant Christian Pastors were woken up in the middle of the night and arrested on false charges of "fraudulent conversions". Roads leading to churches are controlled by the police with checkpoints. The believers are stopped and cannot go freely to church, "and the police force them to go home", denounces A.C. Michael. Other Pastors are threatened and they have not been allowed to carry out service in church.
Among the incidents that occurred on September 5, police arrested Pastor Durga Pradesh and a crowd of 270 Christians from Jaunpur. On 11 September, after pressure from radical Hindu groups, the police arrested Pastor Rajendra Chouhan and seven other faithful, releasing them after three days. On September 13, a crowd of extremists interrupted a prayer vigil led by Pastor Ravindra. On the same day local Christian leader, Ram Milan, was beaten, and in another place, the police took into custody Pastors Ram Ratan and Thomas Osoof, who had come from Mumbai, and were leading a prayer assembly. The police also arrested Pastor Gulabchand along with three other faithful, releasing them the next day.
On 16 September, the police blocked all the roads leading to the church of Bhulandih and asked the faithful to return home, arresting four Christians and were released on bail three days later. Pastors Anil Kumar, Praduman, Deepak Kumar, Monu and Ravinder were also arrested while celebrating a religious ceremony and then released on bail on 18 September.
In a climate of growing tension, a crowd of radicals, accompanied by the local police, walked in a procession in Jaunpur on Saturday 23rd, shouting slogans, entering a church and held Pastor Ashok Rajbhar and three other members of the community. On September 24, police also arrested pastor Chabilal and asked pastor Nanhe Lal to shut down his church.
As Fides learns, these incidents were instigated by the false propaganda of some local mass media such as "Zee News" or the "Hindi Dainik Jagran" newspaper. These media reported that Christian Pastors were attracting people by using fraudulent means.
Jaunpur is a small town in the eastern part of Uttar Pradesh. According to the 2011 census, Jaunpur has a population of 180,000, 88% Hindu, 12% Muslim, 0.11% Christians and other minorities. Uttar Pradesh is India's most populous and politically important state, with a total population of 200 million. (SD) (Agenzia Fides, 27/9/2018)