India: Arrest of at least 36 Christians just before Easter

At least 36 Christians have been arrested at an evangelical church in northern India while celebrating Maundy Thursday. A mob of radical Hindu nationalists surrounded the building under the guise of alleged forced conversions of Hindus to Christianity. 

A congregation of 100 Christians were celebrating Holy Thursday in the Fathepur district of India's Uttar Pradesh on Thursday when they were threatened by a mob of radical Hindus who surrounded the place of worship and locked the gates.

International Christian Concern (ICC) reports that following this incident and based on a complaint under the state of Uttar Pradesh's "anti-conversion" law filed by a member of the Hindu nationalist group Vishwa Hindu Parishad, 36 Christians from the congregation were arrested by the police.

according to Indian news agency PTI, the Christians were arrested for “allegedly illegal religious conversions of 90 people over the past 40 days in [Fatehpur] district.”

For one of the members of this congregation, these arrests are a “perfect representation of the suffering of Jesus 2000 years ago”. “We know Jesus endured, and we will face it,” he added.

ICC President Jeff King recalls that “unfortunately, Uttar Pradesh is one of the harshest states in India when it comes to violations of religious freedom”. He also adds that these laws, which target religious minorities, only aggravate "the vulnerability of Christians" and limit their right to express their faith publicly.

“When Indian authorities validate the actions of a violent mob by imprisoning mob victims, they send the message that criminal activity is sanctioned by authorities whenever it targets religious minorities. This type of legal posture only worsens the climate of religious freedom and further increases the vulnerability of Christians to further violence. Anti-conversion laws are inherently subjective and based on perception, thus completely limiting the rights of Christians to public expression of their faith. »

A report from United Christian Forum highlighted by the Christian Post, reveals that for Indian Christians the year 2021 has been "the most violent" in the country's history.

The organization, which recorded at least 486 violent incidents of persecution against Christians during the year, believes that this increase is linked to the "impunity" enjoyed by "those crowds" who "criminally threaten, physically attack Christians, before handing them over to the police on allegations of forced conversions”.

Camille Westphal Perrier

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