Pastors face harassment and false accusations in India

Pastors face harassment and false accusations in India

Pastor Josmon Pathrose, 55, spent almost the entire month of February in jail and only managed to get his confiscated vehicle back after four months. This is yet another example of the persecution and criminal charges faced by Christians in India, who are often victims of Hindu extremists.

On February 3, while returning to Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh state with another Christian, Pastor Pathroz stopped in Khudatpura village in Jalaun district to visit a family who had attended his online meeting. During the trip, members of Hindu extremist groups Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Vishwa Hindu Parishad accused him of trying to convert people through fraud. Police arrested the pastor, seized his vehicle, Bibles and religious literature, and took him to Madhogarh police station along with three other Christians.

The Christians were slapped and questioned about their preaching activities and sources of funding. A local Hindu, Abhishek Singh, accused the pastor of offering money for conversion to Christianity, a charge the pastor flatly denied. Police filed charges under Indian Penal Code sections related to insulting religious feelings and promoting enmity, but did not cover fraudulent conversions.

Pastor Pathrose described prison conditions as “deplorable”, including threats, extortion and mental torture. He was released on bail on March 1 after a long legal battle, reports Morning Star News.

Upon release, Pathrose faced difficulties in retrieving his confiscated belongings, including his vehicle, Bible, and literature. The authorities demanded several bonds totaling a substantial amount. Despite eventually recovering his vehicle on May 30, he discovered that it was in poor condition and required expensive repairs.

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The incident had a significant impact on the local Christian community. Many Christians fled their homes in fear of retribution. The pressure on the host family led them to break contact with Pastor Pathrose and allegedly make statements against him under duress.

India ranks 11th on Open Doors’ global watch list of countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian. Since Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power in 2014, attacks against Christians have increased, encouraged by the government’s hostile tone towards non-Hindus.

About the author: Cory Weinberg

"Student. Subtly charming organizer. Certified music advocate. Writer. Lifelong troublemaker. Twitter lover."

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