22 March 2018

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08/11/2017 INDIA – NEPAL

Two Nepali Christian couples detained for “forced conversions” in Bihar

The four Nepalis had been evangelising for a month in different neighbourhoods in the city of Muzaffarpur. They have been accused without any evidence of trying to convert the poor through money promises. The Indian Constitution guarantees the right to propagate one’s faith.

New Delhi (AsiaNews) – Indian police arrested two Nepali Christian couples after a group of Indians accused them of possible "forced conversions".

Speaking to AsiaNews, Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), said that the Indian constitution guarantees the "right to freedom of conscience and to profess, practice and propagate religion."

The couples, whose names have not been revealed, come from the Nepali town of Chiton Narayangarh and they had been in Muzaffarpur (Bihar) for about a month. During this period, the two couples were guests at a hotel in the Ahodia market area, but every day they visited a different part of the city, preaching Christianity, especially among the poor and the illiterate.

A local counsellor and his mother-in-law were the first to criticise the Nepalis and file a complaint against the two couples accusing them of converting people by fraudulent means, namely by enticing the poor to become Christians through promises. Six more people later joined the complainants in making the charge.

On 1st August, the Nepalis were taken into custody at Kaji Mohammedpur police station. The accused have rejected the allegation of using money to entice the poor to convert to Christianity. They say they only used their words, talking about Christianity and things written in the Bible.

For several years, laws have been in place in seven Indian states, banning conversions based on money promises or brainwashing. Jharkhand is the latest state to adopt such a law. Its new legislation does not prohibit conversions but imposes a lot of red tape to would-be converts.

Sajan K George is worried by the growing number of “Christians arrested under false charges of forced conversions”. In his view, things have gotten worse since the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power at the Union level.

The BJP’s victory has had the effect of casting suspicions on conversions and evangelisation by Christian Churches. The case of Nepali couples is a case in point. The four people were indeed evangelising, but the charges of enticing the poor were not backed up by any evidence.

The GCIC president notes that "Article 25 (1) of the Indian Constitution says that ‘all persons’, not just Indian citizens, ‘are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practise and propagate religion’.” Indeed, “Sharing the Good News is not an illegal or criminal act. To share the Gospel with others is not a crime. Yet they [the Nepalis] were arrested.”

“India is a multi-ethnic, multilingual, multi-religious and multi-cultural society with constitutional guarantees,” George notes. Sadly, "In our independent India, it is a great shame that Christians, a tiny 2.3 per cent of the population, live in a climate of fear and intimidation."

See also

12/09/2008 INDIA
Police gag order silences Sisters of Mother Teresa
Nuns are accused of abducting and converting children, but they regain custody after accusations are shown to be false. Sangh Parivar, which accuses them of “child trafficking,” plans a demonstration against the nuns for tomorrow. Insecurity spreads to the state of Karnataka where three Pentecostal churches are shut down despite having all the right papers.

16/12/2009 INDIA
New attack against a church in Karnataka, the fourth in four days
Stones are thrown at the Grotto of Saint Anthony in the village of Kolaigiri. It is the 66th act of violence against the Christian community in Karnataka. For the Global Council of Indian Christians, the authorities in BJP-run States ignore “a rising culture of violence and terror against minority Christian communities.”

10/02/2009 INDIA
With political discrimination in the wake of pogroms, Orissa Christians cannot vote
In Kandhamal refugees are left off voters’ list. More than 70,000 have no papers, segregated in refugee camps, far from their villages. They might find it impossible to vote in the upcoming federal and local elections, scheduled for April and May.

11/11/2008 INDIA
Orissa bishops call on government to rebuild churches by Christmas
The request is made in a letter addressed to the state’s chief minister, Naveen Patnaik, to help things get back to normal. However, violence and forced re-conversion to Hinduism are still taking place in the state, generating fear and terror. The bishops call on the central government to continue the deployment of special forces in the state until after the upcoming election which is scheduled for 9 April next year.

20/02/2009 INDIA
Orissa: violence continues, another Christian killed
Hrudayananda Nayak, 40, disappeared Wednesday evening. His lifeless body was found in the forest near the village of Rudangia whose residents are predominantly Christian. Eyewitnesses say that a group of Hindu extremists stopped him on his way home. This is the third murder since October after widespread anti-Christian violence in August and September of last year.

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