International Christian Concern (ICC) learned that police officials in India’s Karnataka state banned a community of Christians from gathering for worship services indefinitely. The officials justified this unconstitutional action by claiming that none of the approximately 50 Christians were Christian by birth and must have been coercively or fraudulently converted to Christianity.
On January 4, 2021, 15 Christian families in Bannimardatti village, located in the Hassan District, were summoned to a meeting with the Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) along with other police officials. At the meeting, the DSP asked the Christians to show evidence that they were Christian and accused them of collecting government benefits as both Christians and Hindus.
The DSP then banned the Christians from gathering for worship in Bannimardatti village. The official justified this order by claiming none of the Christians in Bannimardatti village were Christian at birth and falsely claimed they were coercively or fraudulently converted to Christianity.
“This is the final attempt of Hindu radicals using the state police to clamp down on Christian activities,” a local Christian told ICC on the condition of anonymity. “They have tried everything including social boycotts and physical beatings. However, local Christians remained faithful in the midst of continued harassment.”
The DSP’s order is in direct conflict of the religious freedom rights held by India’s citizens under Article 25 of the constitution. According to Article 25, Indian citizens are given the freedom to profess, practice, and propagate the religion of their choice.
“There is no freedom whatsoever to gather for worship and practice the faith of our choice,” a local pastor told ICC. “The divide between communities is growing and the anti-conversion law that the state government of Karnataka is trying to enact will worsen the situation for religious minorities.”
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SOURCE: International Christian Concern