Police arrested pastors and children on their way to a church camp; Charges include abduction and forced conversion; parents support pastors
NEW DELHI / INDORE – Recently, the High Court of Madhya Pradesh, India decided to hear the case of ten Christian pastors and co-workers, a stronghold of the Hindutva ideology. They were arrested on charges of kidnapping, cruelty and forceful conversion. The police stopped the Christians while they were bringing more than 60 children from their neighbourhood to a church camp.
The state should not target people because of their religious beliefs
“The Indian constitution guarantees the freedom to practice and propagate religion to every citizen. The arrest of the ten Christians including two women and two minors severely violates this basic right. All of the parents wanted their children to participate in this summer camp. It is their inalienable right to decide what is the best instruction for their children. The state should not target people because of their religious beliefs,” said Robin David, an allied lawyer of ADF International, who is defending the accused Christians at Court.
Rising hostility against Christians and other religious minorities
On 23 May, at Ratlam train station, Madhya Pradesh, the local police detained a group of pastors and fellow Christians, including two women and two minors, who were accompanying more than 60 children. The group was on its way to a Christian summer camp in the neighbouring state of Maharashtra. All parents immediately confirmed in front of the local Court that they had willingly sent their children to the camp. While the children were allowed to return to their homes after three days, the pastors and most of the coworkers are still being held in jail. Now the Madhya Pradesh High Court will hear their case.
“Nobody should be persecuted because of their faith. In India, we see an increasingly hostile climate towards religious minorities. Anti-conversion laws fuel this sentiment and pave the way for the so-called Hindutva-ideology that seeks to purge India of all non-Hindus. Sadly, this is not an isolated incident. The international community needs to wake up to what is happening in India,” said Paul Coleman, Deputy Director of ADF International, a human rights group advocating for people to live out their faith freely.