(UPDATE, CHANGING LEAD, ADDING EVANGELISM DETAILS)
By BosNewsLife Asia Service
NEW DELHI, INDIA (BosNewsLife)– Minority Christians in India have expressed concern about an ongoing crackdown on evangelism after several believers, including children, were detained for “forcing” conversions.
Among those detained was a Christian woman, identified only as Vani, advocacy group Voice Of the Martyrs (VOM) said. She was reportedly jailed for several weeks after talking about her Christian faith with a young runaway.
Additionally on December 28, ten Christian workers and three young girls, under the age of six, were detained in central India on charges of “deliberate and malicious acts intended to hurt religious feelings,” Christians said.
More details were not immediately made available, apparently amid security concerns.
Rights activists said “Hindu nationalists” pressured police to detain the Christians after a healing celebration. Hindu militants reportedly accused the Christians of “forcing conversions and insulting the gods and goddesses of the village.”
Though police said there was “no evidence” of forced conversions, at least three of Christians apparently remained behind bars Saturday, January 24. Others were reportedly released on bail.
It comes amid mounting concerns of anti-conversion measures in several states of India, a predominantly Hindu nation of over 1 billion people.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Venkaiah Naidu, has reportedly proposed a ban on all religious conversions — not just “forced” or “fraudulent” ones.
Throughout last year’s Advent season, religious minority groups — including Christians and Muslims — were targeted in a reconversion campaign led by several Hindu nationalist groups, Christian observers said.
“These reconversion drives caused political and religious tempers to rise and produced much heated debate,” commented VOM. The group was “thanking God for the Christians who have been freed from imprisonment,” but urged prayers for the release of believers still in jail.
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