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Christian pastor arrested in India for praying at home on New Year’s Eve

Maharajganj district police arrested a Pastor Raj Kishore and one of his guests for praying in the pastor’s own home on New Year's Eve.

Pastor Kishore and some of his friends had assembled in his house to pray in Sonbarasa village. One of his neighbours raised a complaint with the Kothibari police, who rushed to the pastor’s home around 11 p.m.. The five policemen started making videos of the worship against the pastor’s will. When Kishore objected, they started swearing at him and left. However, they returned soon after and detained Pastor Kishore alongng with one of his friends, Raj Kumar. The pastor was charged with forced conversion, without any opportunity to defend himself. 

Pyare Lal, a Christian leader from Uttar Pradesh, stated the following, after speaking to the Station Head Officer on Monday morning: “The SHO told me that he booked Kishore and Kumar under the Code Of Criminal Procedure (CrPc) 151 (“Arrest to prevent the commission of cognizable offences”), 107 (“breach of peace or disturb public tranquillity”), 116 (“provides for the power of the Magistrate to take immediate measures for the execution of bond”)”.

Kishore and Kumar were eventually released, however, there has been a case filed against them. Kishore’s wife, Bhagwanti, challenged the claim of any kind of conversion taking place in her house. She said that they were just quietly praying with friends, when the police barged in, falsely accused and detained her husband. Bhagwanti said they have the right to honour and pray to whomever they want to and read religious scriptures of whatever religion they want to.

“Due to the rivalry of one of our neighbors, the police have taken my husband, Raj Kishore, and a guest in our house to the police station on false charges without registering any complaint” she said. 

There are 69.5 million Christians in India, but they only make up five per cent of the country’s Hindu-majority population. Even though there is democracy and freedom of religion in the country, Hidu extremists make it really challenging to be a Christian. More and more states are implementing anti-conversion laws, claiming that these stop Hindus being forcibly converted to other religions. However, these laws are often used as an excuse to harass and intimidate Christians.


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