By Abdul Bari Masoud
New Delhi: ADF India, a group dedicated to safeguarding the fundamental liberties of oppressed individuals, has claimed on Thursday that 11 Christians have been “falsely” arrested and imprisoned under anti-conversion laws in Uttar Pradesh and Chhattisgarh in just two days.
ADF India allied lawyers said they were able to immediately secure bail in the Jashpur matter and bail in the other two incidents expected soon.
Tehmina Arora, lawyer with ADF told Muslim Mirror that ADF India’s associated lawyers responded on March 27th and 28th to three “bogus” reports of forced conversion against pastors and Christians in Jashpur (Chhattisgarh), Etawah, and Fatehpur (Uttar Pradesh).
On March 27th, a pastor and a Christian were arrested in Jashpur for organising a “changai sabha” (Special Prayer for Healing) where they were reportedly seeking to convert tribals, according to the complaint, she said.
The two Christians have been booked under IPC sections 295A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs) and Section 34 (common intention) and section 4 of the Chhattisgarh Freedom of Religion Act.
On the same day (March 27th), seven Christians were placed in judicial custody under the Uttar Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act after a FIR of alleged forced conversation was filed in the Etawah district of Uttar Pradesh. The charge brought by the village head against them is that they were trying to convert a Dalit family, she added.
The very next day (March 28th), the same Act was invoked to “implicate” two Christians in Fatehpur for having a prayer meeting with 10-12 people.
In each of the incidents, all the attendees were there by will and without any force or inducement.
Even though these incidents occurred in three separate areas, the pattern in all three incidents is quite consistent, she underlined.
“ADF India allied lawyers were able to secure bail for the defendants in the Jashpur incident, and are hard at work for a positive outcome in the other two incidents as well”.
The UCF Helpline, which tracks hate crimes against the Christians minorities, has already received around 100 reports of persecution from across India in the first 90 days of 2022. With the help of ADF India linked lawyers, six FIRs were filed, 41 complaints were filed, and 35 Christians and pastors were released in the same timeframe.
ADF India was established in 2012 as an alliance building human rights organization that advocates for religious freedom and the sanctity of human life and it partners with allied lawyers across the country to secure victories for religious freedom, she said.
Meanwhile, the latest edition of a newsletter “FOCUS” published by the Asia-Pacific Human Rights Information Center has carried an excerpt from a report of People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) on the increasing number of attacks on Christians in India. It presents cases of the attacks by groups that promote the idea of India as a country with only one religion or spiritual belief.