Please pray for six Christian women who have been accused of forcibly converting others by a Hindu extremist group. Their lawyer believes they have been denied bail due to political pressure.
Six Christian women from Azamgarh in Uttar Pradesh State, India, have been arrested after they were accused of carrying out forced conversions. Christians are increasingly being harassed and targeted under anti-conversion laws, often with false accusations.
The women were arrested on 30 July during a birthday party, attended by around 100 other Christians.
However, 15 members of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), a local Hindu extremist group, reacted badly to such a large gathering of Christians. They barged into the party and began recording the guests, taking their Bibles and songbooks away from them and accusing them of forcibly converting people. They then went to the local police station to file a complaint against the believers, using the Bibles and Christian literature they’d taken as proof of their accusations.
Police then arrested the six women, most of whom are from very poor financial backgrounds.
“We feel that it was because of political pressure that the women were not given bail.”Munish Chandra, lawyer
Munish Chandra, the lawyer representing the women, told The Wire, “The ground reality is that people are being targeted by right-wing fanatic organisations being backed by the government to gain popularity or benefit politically.
“The women were at their home celebrating a birthday,” Chandra continues. “When they were praying, members of the VHP lodged a complaint against the women. They were taken to the station at 2pm; however, in the police diary, it states that the women were taken in at 6 pm. We tried for their bail; however, the lower court did not have the powers to give the women the bail. We feel that it was because of political pressure that the women were not given bail.
“One of the women is handicapped, one of the women’s sons is differently-abled and the rest of their families are suffering enormously since they are all dependent on the women,” he added.
More and more Indian Christians are being targeted through anti-conversion laws, which are now passed in eleven states – and that number is likely to increase. The laws are in place supposedly to protect Hindus from forced conversion, but more and more Christians are finding themselves accused of forcibly converting others – even when there’s no proof.
The driving force behind this is Hindutva, an ideology that disregards Indian Christians and other religious minorities as true Indians because they have allegiances that supposedly lie outside India, and asserts the country should be purified of their presence.
Please pray for these six women and their families, that they will be released quickly, and that their court case will be conducted fairly and with compassion.
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