More Christians charged, harassed in India under anti-conversion laws

Several Protestants and a Catholic priest have been arrested in separate incidents under India’s controversial anti-conversion laws in the latest signs of a deteriorating climate for religious minorities under a Hindu nationalist government,

In the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, Father Dominic Pinto of the Lucknow diocese was arrested Feb. 5 along with six Protestants on charges of trying to convert poor Dalits, or “untouchables,” from Hinduism to Christianity, while in Assam, in far northeastern India, two American Baptists were fined Feb. 2 for engaging in religious activities that violated the conditions of their tourist visas.

According to Bishop Gerald Mathias of Lucknow, the Hindu protestors who disrupted the gathering in Uttar Pradesh and demanded police arrest the participants belonged to the right-wing nationalist group Vishva Hindu Parishad or its young wing, Bajrang Dal. He called charges that the meeting was engaging in conversion “totally false.”

“This is a gross misuse of the draconian anti-conversion law in the state,” Mathias said.