‘Concocted Charges’: Christians in UP’s Fatehpur Allege Harassment Over ‘Forced Conversion’ Claims ( The Wire)

Ten Christians are currently in jail and arrest warrants have been issued against others. Members of the community say this is a targeted campaign against them by Hindutva forces.

The people arrested in the case. Photo: Special arrangement

New Delhi: Arrests of Christians in Uttar Pradesh’s Fatehpur district continue over allegations of forced conversions from the Vishwa Hindu Parishad.

The first complaint by the Hindutva outfit was made in April this year, in the run up to Easter celebrations. Six months later, Christians allege there has been an attempt to target the community with false allegations.

Over 10 people are currently lodged in Fatehpur jail over the allegations, and warrants have been issued to arrest others.

On April 14, 2022, ahead of Easter celebrations, Maundy Thursday prayers were reportedly disrupted by a group of Hindutva activists. A group of 60-70 workers from the VHP allegedly entered the premises of the church and locked it from the outside.

Speaking to The Wire, Reverend Edwin John Wesley, general secretary and legal officer of the Evangelical Church of India (ECI), said, “During the holy service of prayers, we were all inside the church preparing for Good Friday. All of a sudden, 60-70 members of right-wing groups – a mix of members of the Bajrang Dal and the VHP – were chanting the slogan of ‘Jai Shree Ram’ and locked the church from outside. When the police came in, the Aadhaar and identity cards of the residents were verified. We were told that we will be protected and taken safely to our homes. However, worshippers were instead taken to the police station. After midnight, an FIR was registered by the police.”

The FIR, accessed by The Wire, was registered on the complaint of VHP leader Himanshu Dixit under IPC sections 153A (Promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion), 506 (Criminal intimidation), 420 (cheating), 467 and 468 (forgery and cheating), and Sections 3 and 5 (1) of the Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Act, 2021. The law provides for imprisonment of one to five years with a minimum fine of Rs 15,000 for forced conversions, and three to ten years of jail time for the conversion of minors and women from the SC/ST community.

This story was originally published in thewire.in . Read the full story here

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