Hindu nationalists disturb Pentecostal gathering in Mumbai; accuse pastor of forced conversions

Published 04 September 2019  |  
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A group of radical Hindu nationalists in Worli Naka, Mumbai disturbed a Pentecostal Christian gathering and blamed the pastor for practicing forced conversions on September 1.

The meeting held at the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation school was organised by the Pentecostal Christian movement "New Life Fellowship Association" and Rev. Allen Salins from Mangalore was the guest of honor.

About 80 Christians gathered to listen to Rev. Salins' faith experience but the local police soon called of the peaceful meeting after receiving an alert from Bajrang Dal activists, a youth wing of the far-right Hindu nationalist faction Vishwa Hindu Parishad.

Dinesh Shrivastav, 28-year-old local coordinator, who was leading the Hindu radicals, entered the meeting and asked one of his fellow men to record what was happening. According to Bajrang Dal activists, the gathering disturbed social harmony and could have caused disorder to public order.

Nationalists leader Shrivastav said, "They should have kept it in church. Why did they do it in school?"

Rev. Salins objected what had happened and said, "We were all shocked. We had organized the event to pray and sing. There was no threat to public order. The New Life Fellowship Association paid the school to hold the meeting."

Worli Naka Chief Police Inspector Sukhlal Varpe favoured the nationalists and said the organizers were not allowed to hold the meeting. Even though the Christians received permission from the school, they cannot hold such religious events without informing the local police.

President of the Global Council of Indian Christians, Sajan K George condemned the growing aversion to the Christian faith. "In rural areas, it is not unusual for right-wing factions to send their spies to prayer meetings and even ask the pastor to pray for their recovery. In the meantime, they resume everything and then broadcast the videos on social media, saying that they are forced conversions. It is all false and without groundless, with the sole purpose of sowing suspicion against the Christian minority," the Christian leader expressed.

Furthermore, George said that Christians in the country enjoy the rights guaranteed by the Constitution and are citizens who respect the law. "These marginal groups disturb public order, threaten and intimidate the tiny community of faithful. The vigilantism of the majority is taking over and wants to destroy religious minorities. Christians are seen as 'others.' We are very worried," he added.

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