Suspected Hindu nationalists reportedly disrupted a prayer meeting last month and are said to have beat up a pastor as persecution against Christians and other religious minorities continues to increase in India.
Pastor Raju Prassad, who leads a small fellowship in the Kanshiram Colony in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, told the persecution watchdog charity International Christian Concern about an attack on his fellowship that occurred on July 28.
Prassad claimed that Hindu nationalists belonging to Bajrang Dal, a youth militant group affiliated with the Vishva Hindu Parishad and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, harassed and identified a group of women and two men who were on their way to the prayer meeting.
The perpetrators are said to have physically and verbally abused the women and two men before they arrived at the prayer meeting.
When the group of Christians arrived at the house where the meeting was taking place, the nationalists allegedly continued their attack.
Pastor Prassad said that he was dragged out of the house and beaten by the perpetrators.
When the police came, Prassad said he and members of his fellowship were arrested and brought to the police station on charges of forcible conversion.
In some states in India, including Uttar Pradesh, it is illegal to coerce or allure someone into religious conversion. Anti-conversion laws are often used by Hindu activists to press false cases against Christian leaders.
At the police station in Chakeri, Prassad said that Hindu nationalists continued to beat him.
According to the pastor, he and his fellow members spent a total of five hours at the police station before police cleared them of forcible conversion charges.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith