Authorities in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh arrested seven Christian ministers at a prayer meeting last Sunday under the state’s “anti-conversion” law. At present they are still in jail.
The police initially also detained fifty worshipers but released them the same day. Two Roman Catholic nuns who were at a bus stop near the prayer house were also held at the police station for several hours.
Uttar Pradesh is one of the several Indian states that have “anti-conversion” laws, which presume that Christians “force” or give financial benefits to Hindus to convert them to Christianity. These laws allow Hindu nationalist groups to make false charges against Christians and launch attacks on them under the pretext of the alleged forced conversion. Since the ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party took power in 2014, persecution against Christians and other religious minorities has increased.
"Hindu extremists believe that all Indians should be Hindus and that the country should be rid of Christianity and Islam,” an Open Doors fact sheet on India explains. “They use extensive violence to achieve this goal, particularly targeting Christians from a Hindu background. Christians are accused of following a ‘foreign faith’ and blamed for bad luck in their communities.”